Date of Birth
Age at Rescue
50 Years Old
Surin Central Thailand
17 January 2015
Herd / Friends
Mho Jae / Sa Ngae
Originally from Mae Sariang, born approximately 1965, with Karen hill tribe owners, SookSai has been moved all around Thailand and has passed from owner to owner about 15 times.
She began her working life in legal and illegal logging. SookSai eventually ended up in the south of Thailand working as a trekking elephant.
In 2011 she lost her footing going up a hill and broke her ankle. She was in recovery for one and a half years, after which she was forced to resume trekking, even though her ankle did not heal properly and buckled under her weight causing her to walk on the side of her foot. As a result, she limped. Tourists who she carried complained about the unstable, wobbly ride.
Because of the complaints, her trekking days ended. But her working days did not.
Next, she became a street begging elephant. This was also short lived because people DID complain about her injured foot and walking on the hard concrete. The mahout did not enjoy being criticized all the time so he took her back home.
Sadly, SookSai’s days of exploitation and abuse were far from over…
As is the norm for many a female elephant who have a break which prohibits them from working, she was put in a ‘forced breeding program’. There are many methods of forced breeding – and it happens all around the world, not just in Thailand.
Baby elephants are a valuable commodity, one which handicapped females can produce for their owners when other means of employment are not an option. BUT – quite often the stress of the injury and the long recovery causes the female’s estrous cycle to fall dormant. Sadly, determined owners will often disregard this possibility, instead choosing to force their elephant to withstand multiple mating incidents over a course of days, weeks and sometimes months.
Like so many other elephants, SookSai did not become pregnant. Her owner became frustrated and mostly abandoned her. She stood chained to a tree with barely any room to move, a wall of her own dung slowly rising around her. She often went without food and water because of her owner’s lack of interest in her. Thankfully, she was brought to our attention and her life of solitary sadness could come to an end.