Poor elephants in captivity are often used to entertain tourists. They give people rides and even paint pictures. From the outside it looks like fun, but these elephants pay a very high price.
In Thailand, newborn elephants are separated from their mothers and put into small wooden cages where they are “tamed” so that they can be used for tourism.
Lack of food, physical abuse, and burns are just a few of the things this poor animals face. They can’t sleep because the cages are so small that they can’t lie down. The baby elephants are kept this way for at least a week. The ritual is called “phajaan” or “elephant crushing”.
The torturers know exactly what they are doing, and they can tell when the elephant is so broken that it can begin to build up false trust with the human handlers. Then, and only then, the elephant gets food and water for the first time.
Fortunately, there people in Thailand fighting to improve the lives of the elephants. When Sanduen was a little girl, she saw an elephant abused so badly that it screamed. When she asked the owner if the elephant could be given a rest from the torture, she got an answer that she would never forget.
“No, he does not have time for rest, he gets to rest when he is dead.”
However, saving the elephants was not easy, and it was only in 1996 that she, together with Green Tours, could fulfill her dream of opening her own elephant park and sanctuary.
Elephant Nature Park is located in northern Thailand and is more than just a place for abused elephants.
The park is huge and provides as close to a natural environment for the elephants as possible. They don’t have to do any tricks or any work. Elephant Nature Park puts the elephants’ well-being first.
Tourists can visit and hike through the beautiful park, and entrance fees are used to fund the park.
85 percent of the elephants arriving at the park have been mentally damaged from their ordeal and some are completely shut down and have nearly lost their will to live. It’s difficult to imagine how terrible their life was.
The elephants are traumatized by forced labor, abuse, and many have completely given up. But Sangduen knows how to help these elephants.
She has found a way to communicate with them and help them heal.
Sanduen talks to them, sings to them, and shows them kindness and empathy, something they have never experienced before.
Henrik Evoldsen describes Sangduen with the elephants:
“When she begins to talk to the elephants, they don’t want to leave her. They want to be close to her all the time. When we visit the park, we can not go with Sangduen, and then all the elephants come to her at once.”
It’s not only the elephants who love Sangduen, she loves them right back. She adores her best friends and would never want to live a life without them.
The video shows how these elephants are tortured, but also their new life after they are saved by this amazing woman.
Warning: Disturbing video.