ThongAe is a female elephant born as a result of forced breeding, whereby her mother was chained while the male elephant was coerced to mate with her.
ThongAe stayed with her mother in the trekking camp for just five short months, after which she was sold and trained to be a street begging elephant. It was during this time that several people witnessed the mahout abusing her in a busy market place. As a result of this incident there was a public outcry and a report made to the authorities.
ThongAe’s owner decided to move her immediately to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand to avoid prosecution. In Chiang Mai, she was forced into an elephant show and riding camp, where she was forced to perform demeaning tricks to entertain tourists. It was here that an older elephant adopted ThongAe and tried to care for her as her nanny. Tragically, ThongAe’s nanny died from exhaustion whilst carrying tourists on her back. Lek heard about ThongAe’s plight and was determined to rescue her.
In August 2017, Lek convinced the owner to allow ThongAe to come to Elephant Nature Park so that she could recover from the trauma of her past and her poor physical health.
ThongAe was quickly adopted by several nannies and her health began to improve in this new environment of love and care. In March 2019, Lek received the dreaded call from the owner to say that they wanted to sell ThongAe back to the circus and they would buy two older elephants for riding. Luckily, we were able to convince the owner to allow ThongAe to stay at Elephant Nature Park permanently with her many nannies and friends. ThongAe continues to thrive in her forever home at Elephant Nature Park.