Keeping a wild animal captive to perform tricks or to work for you is animal cruelty, no matter how you treat that animal. They deserve to live free among their kind and have a fulfilling life. Many animals like Wassana the elephant had this kind of life. She had a job for 45 years. Her owners made her haul logs and fell trees, and when that was outlawed, she had to carry tourists on her back. In her spare time, she was chained.
Wassana’s life was sad, but thankfully, it did end happily. She was freed and just look at how happy she is with her new best friend!
20. A Tough Life
Seeing such majestic animals live enslaved and subdued is painful. But knowing that they were not getting even a proper meal, or that they didn’t know what a bath was, it’s truly gut-wrenching!
19. Wounded and Malnourished
Wassana was found malnourished and covered in wounds. She was chained, and her spirit was broken. After 45 years of living like this, she didn’t know that life wasn’t supposed to be like this. But then she was set free…
18. A Happy Life
This old elephant was finally freed from her captors, and she is now happier than you could possibly imagine. It took her a while to understand that she was safe. And then, she would also meet her best friend!
17. Stolen Calves
The rescuers at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) believe that Wassana was one of the many cases of elephant calves stolen from the wild that were sold to work in the logging industry.
16. Growing Away From Her Mother
A small elephant growing away from her mother, Wassana would live through decades of work, instead of wondering the fields with a herd. This is what WFFT said about her case…
15. Forced to Destroy Her Home
Lilli Ecmanis is the tours and education manager at WFFT. She thinks that the elephant ‘worked in the logging industry where she was forced to contribute to the destruction of her own habitat through felling and lifting heavy logs up out of the jungle tracks.’
14. Outlawed the Use of Elephants
In the 1980s, using elephants for logging became illegal. But at the same time, those elephants were the perfect means of transportation in the tourism industry. Only Wassana knows what she has seen in her 45 years of life…
13. Making Money
Tourism meant a lot of money if elephants were a part of it, so Ecmanis believes that Wassana had many owners through the decades. You won’t believe how they found out about her!
12. Saving Elephants
WFFT takes in elephants and gives them a chance of living happy lives. It’s the place where most of the retired elephants in the tourism camp live. This is a safe home for elephants that can’t make it alone in the wild after a life of captivity.
11. She Was Lucky
WFFT went to a tourism camp to rescue an elephant. There, they also saw Wassana, and they had to talk to the owner. She had an abscess on her leg, and her owner said that it came and went, but she hadn’t been checked by a vet.
10. Multiple Wounds
Wassana also had some wounds on her head made by bullhooks – which are sharp devices used to strike and control the elephants. She wasn’t looking too good. She was chained, malnourished and she badly needed a bath…
9. The Owner Accepted Let Her Retire
Wassana’s owner accepted to let her retire, so WFFT took her to their sanctuary. They raised some funds to take her away from the camp. The old elephant was incredibly friendly, despite her sad past!
8. A Friendly Old Lady
She arrived at the Elephant Refuge. She showed the staff her friendly side and was happy to check out her home. WFFT wrote on their Facebook page that elephants are extremely social animals, but captivity can change them…
7. A Life of Captivity
‘When they are kept in captivity for many years they are often kept alone and without the chance to interact with others as they would do in the wild,’ wrote their post. And they didn’t know how Wassana would act around other elephants.
6. Solitude Can Make You Cranky
The post concluded that ‘it’s not always easy for elephants to make new friends after 40 to 50 years of solitude.’ So, they tried to slowly introduce Wassana with Jele, who’s a senior female elephant. They were fine together, but it didn’t last long…
5. Some Alone Time
WFFT left Wassana more time to herself. Later, they arranged a meeting with a 55-year-old female elephant called Nam Phon. They would spend time together in the same enclosure for the day, and at night they were separated.
4. They Bonded!
It didn’t take long until these two old ladies bonded and they were perfect for each other! WFFT wrote on their Facebook page that ‘Nam Phon proved to be a brilliant match for the shy Wassana.’
3. A Close Friendship
‘These two recently rescued elephants are fast forming a very close friendship, which we hope will only grow stronger as time goes on and they can enjoy their retirement together,’ added WFFT. IT was indeed great news!
2. A Gentle Personality
Nam Phon’s personality was more gentle and relaxed, which allowed Wassana get close to her new friend. Wassana looks like she’s blossomed in the care of the great people at the Elephant Refuge!
1. Don’t Encourage Wildlife Tourism!
Unfortunately, Wassana’s story exists because of heartless people that use animals for their benefits. Tourism camps that use elephants against their will are something made possible only because tourists pay for these services.
If you want to see a change, avoid places where tourism promotes abuses of wildlife!