|Mae Boon Ma's
working life began as a logging elephant and she later
worked in various trekking camps. Lek came across her for the first time
in 1995. “She was tiny, very bony and could hardly stand. Completely
exhausted in in a really bad way” says Lek. A lack of food, complete
physical exhaustion and severe abuse over a long period of time had
created severe psychological and eye problems.
Mae Boon Ma is a white elephant, making her one of the most special
in all of Thailand. These elephants are extremely rare, very sacred and
highly revered. In fact, Thailand used to be known as the land of the
white elephant, and the old flag of Siam featured a magnificent white
elephant on a red background. Today, very few of these beautiful
|To be confirmed a true white elephant, an expert must examine the
animal and check that certain characteristics are present. The criteria
are rather specific, but in short, they require that the elephant has:
- Pink skin
- White palate
- White body hair
- White tail hair
- White genitalia
- White nails
- White eyes
In Thailand, a white elephant with all seven characteristics is
considered a white elephant. Mae Boon Ma displayed only five of these
No one knows exactly how old Mae Boon Ma is. Her birth certificate
says she is over 100 years, but many of these birth certificates are
unreliable. Most likely she was born around 1940.
She arrived at the park in 2003, when the owners agreed to lease her
out to Lek. The park has been trying to purchase Mae Boon Ma, but
negotiations with the owners have so far proved unsuccessful. Her lease
was extended for 10 months in May 2005 with financial support from Hope,
a caring woman from Los Angeles.
Today Mae Boon Ma is one of the most popular elephants in the park.
She has been nicknamed “the prude” for resisting the feisty advances of
young bull Boon Pa. She is a gentle elephant with a huge appetite, who
adores the rest of her family group: Jungle Boy,
Mae Keow and
official documentation of elephants of more than
10 years ago are sketchy at best. The dates we
use are our best estimates.