Gluay Hom is a 10 year old male of some notoriety. His story went viral shortly after National Geographic did an exposé on wildlife tourism, showing a deeply distressing image of Gluay Hom in appalling condition. Save Elephant Foundation immediately received word from many corners of the globe asking us to do something to relieve his obvious suffering.
Save Elephant Foundation quickly took steps to investigate what could be done. Seeing Gluay Hom in person revealed his condition to be even worse than the images portrayed. We found a broken-spirited creature, hunched, fearful, and painfully alone in the company of five adult bulls. He had spent his whole life at the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm, where animals were exploited for the perverse entertainment of visitors.
At a tender age, Gluay Hom was separated from his mother to be trained as a circus elephant. Nutrition had been pitiably inadequate, and having spent all of his life short-chained and standing on a cement floor, atrophy had wasted much of his muscle mass, especially in his hind legs. SEF staff fell immediately and painfully in love with this vulnerable and miserable elephant. Besides his wasted frame, he was suffering a parasitic condition and a stab wound to his left foreleg, now inflamed, swollen and lame. Blood tests later revealed that he was asymptomatic EEHV positive, for which he had to be quarantined at the Park for 1 1/2 months until medical treatment and ongoing blood tests confirmed it was safe for him to have contact with others. He responded well to pain and anti-inflammatory meds and his leg has improved significantly.
Gluay is understandably shy and lacking in confidence, despite his intimidating tusks, which indicate a more mature age than his undersized, malnourished body. However, his character is starting to emerge from behind the tentatively explored edges of his new life. His time in quarantine has provided much needed rest and a hearty appetite for the nutritious food now on offer, which is beginning to heal a multitude of ailments and allow him to gain weight. His curiosity to explore this new world is adorable and his first moments in a pool were illuminating…surely he had never been in water of any depth before – the birthright of every elephant. He reveled in the experience, cautious at first, and then with abandon and unfettered joy.
As his confidence grows, he is now venturing into the wilder world of the river and finding there a level of excitement and contentment previously unknown. He holds no grudges, and is sensitive to the kindness that surrounds him. Gluay Hom embraces life and draws goodness from every waking moment.