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Sangduen Lek Chailert's Elephant Nature Foundation - P1/2 (In Thai)    
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Today’s Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants will be presented in Thai and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

This is Thailand, and the nature park where I live is way up in the north of the country, near a city called Chiang Mai.

Welcome, friendly viewers, to today’s edition of Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants, featuring the first in a two-part series on the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand where rescued elephants live freely in beautiful natural surroundings.

They leave behind their previous harsh lives where they were forced to do hard labor, circus tricks, or other degrading activities often while being chained. The sanctuary, which includes “Elephant Haven” a separate natural area a few hours away from the Park, has gained worldwide recognition.

In 2005, Ms. Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, the vegan founder of the Elephant Nature Foundation which created the Park, was named “Asian Hero of the Year” by the respected news periodical TIME Magazine. The Park has also received attention from other international media outlets, appearing in publications such as National Geographic magazine and being the subject of documentaries by the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, the BBC, CNN, KTV, RAI, and major Thai TV channels.

During childhood Sangduen became friends with an elephant called Togkum or Golden One. Togkum was given to her grandfather, who was a traditional healer, by a patient as an expression of gratitude for saving his life. As chance would have it, Ms. Chailert had the opportunity to care for many elephants during her teens and this led her to decide to dedicate her life to these gentle giants.

Actually I didn’t plan for this, however I have always loved animals. One day when I was in senior high school, a group of missionaries were looking for volunteers to help with translation of the local language. As I wanted to learn English and I could speak the local dialect, I volunteered and the missionaries helped me get up into the mountain. It must have been fate, as I traveled to the Karen villages where the logging industry was taking place.

I met some elephants and I was shocked by the maltreatment of the elephants which were working dragging logs. Some of the elephants were blind in both eyes, crippled, with sores all over their body and were still forced to drag the logs time and again. After I left that day the images were still clear in my mind and it was heart wrenching. It was like it was a plea for help which wouldn’t leave me even when I ate or slept. Anything I did, I saw the images.

So I decided to get a job when I was 16 and buy medicine for the elephants. I went with the missionaries again up the mountain to deliver the medicine. But after a while the more I went into the jungle, the more elephants I saw. I decided to become a volunteer and come out to work so that I could get medicine for them and then I would go back into the jungle to look after them. This was how I started this work.

Then one day when I was administering the medicine and there were so many of them I started to think that this would be never-ending. I wasn’t a veterinarian so I thought the only way was to find a home for them. How was I going to find a home for them when I was just a mountain person? I always thought to myself that if I had the opportunity I would make a home for them.

Ms. Chailert kept the dream alive in her heart of making a refuge so she could ensure the well-being of the magnificent elephants. Through the help of a friend from the USA, her noble vision to create an elephant haven was realized in 1995. In 2003, the Park shifted to a larger site in the Mae Taeng valley.

One day this friend of mine told me that he knew someone who would buy land and donate it to the elephants. In 1992 I bought my first elephant; I had to get someone to look after her as I didn’t have a place of my own. Then in 2003 after a very long time a rich man in Texas (USA) bought this land for us. So it started from there.

Before I had nine elephants and I took them to the national park however the officials always told us to leave. But now as we have someone who bought the land for us, they have a permanent home and the elephants have a place to live.

Today the sanctuary houses 34 rescued elephants from all over Thailand.

We have helped over 200 elephants. Most of them we can’t bring here. We help the owners look after them for a while and return them to their owners. Most of the severely injured elephants were in the logging industry, elephants which walk the streets, homeless beggar elephants, performing elephants and elephants which give tours in the jungle.

These elephants before they came here had mental problems. In addition to physical abuse, our biggest problem is mental health. At this point we need a lot of time for mental health treatment. The treatment uses nature and the giving of love and compassion.

Family is the most important thing to elephants. And in the wild, we stick together in groups called herds. Although most of the elephants here at the Park are not related, we want to be part of a family like you.

When we return, we’ll learn about the compassionate Jumbo Express project set up by the Elephant Nature Foundation. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants for our program featuring the loving Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai province. Including a separate area called Elephant Haven; the Park provides a 386 hectare refuge for 34 rescued elephants from all parts of Thailand, who now live peacefully in a river valley amidst forested mountains.

Also since 1995, the Jumbo Express, a free mobile health clinic operated by the Elephant Nature Foundation which created the Park, has visited 100 villages populated by the native hill peoples, various Thai communities, and refugee camps in the area from the Thailand-Burma border up to the Laos-China border to treat elephants.

This originated from when I traveled into the jungle to hand out medicine, so the elephant ambulance was created. Another treatment for elephants is the prevention of illnesses and the only way for this to work is to train the elephant carers on the way to care for them. We can’t just go and talk to the carers. We have to show them that we care for them also, so we also give medicines to people.

Sometimes we will hire doctors from the hospitals to come with us. We use some of our funds to hire doctors who will help distribute medicines to the people. We also have healthcare projects that don’t involve doctors. Indigenous hill peoples live in remote areas and it takes a lot of traveling time to come see a doctor. When our mobile health clinic goes to visit the indigenous hill peoples, lots of children will run and follow our vehicle – a stream of red as Karen hill people like to wear red. It is a wonderful feeling.

We see a lot of disadvantaged villagers, sometimes we end up coming back with no shoes. When we see that they do not have shoes, we take ours off and give it to them. The kids tell us it’s good that you do not return in just your underwear. We come and give everything and this is a really satisfying feeling. Sometimes we give them the shirt that we are wearing and love very much but they are without. It is a really satisfying feeling; I can’t explain it. When we go there everything that we do has so much meaning.

Each new elephant to the Park is warmly welcomed by the existing residents, a touching start to the lifelong friendships that form between the marvelous beings that live there.

When we receive a new elephant, they come individually. They come at different times and under different circumstances. Some elephants we rescue from the jungle, others from the roads. When the new elephants arrive, it is an amazing scene. When the elephant arrives and comes out of the truck, we will take him to be introduced to the others. There will be a very loud welcoming reception.

They will come to interview, to touch and will talk for many hours. They will talk very loud. If anyone hasn’t seen elephants talking together they will see it now. It is absolutely magnificent. They will ask questions and answer questions. When the new one arrives there will be approximately 20 trunks pointing in that direction asking questions. After asking the question, the other will answer. We don’t know what they are asking but we know they are communicating.

Once they meet each other, no matter who it is, where they come from, once they arrive at this home they receive only love. They will love and accept each other. For example Jokia, a blind elephant and Mother Perm. Mother Perm came first; she was the first elephant at this center. Jokia was the second elephant. Once they met each other, they started talking immediately. They talked to each other, they hugged each other. Once they lived together for awhile and they used their trunks to hug and greet each other.

After a while they stayed together and did not leave one another. Mother Perm has good eyesight and will eat grass. Jokia will use his trunk to find the grass but he will be a bit slower. Once Mother Perm is about 50 meters away, Jokia will call her. Mother Perm will then quickly come and hug and talk to him. It’s like she would apologize for being too far away and that she will come back.

A lot of people come here to film documentaries. When they have finished filming they will take pictures. Jokia will then ask what is happening at the front. Mother Perm will tell him, “It’s all right, I will go have a look,” as elephant vision is not very good. They can’t see very far. So Mother Perm will walk forward. So we have to tell the cameraman not to come too close to this pair of elephants as they are very protective. They will tell each other what is happening.

Indeed, elephants are remarkable beings who truly deserve our respect and protection. May Heaven bless the souls of these incredibly loving, soft-hearted vegan giants! Join us again tomorrow on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants to discover more about the lives of the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park and their moving stories, as well as to see the presentation of Shining World Compassion Award to Ms. Sangduen “Lek” Chailert.

For more details on the Elephant Nature Park, please visit or

Thank you cherished viewers for your company on today’s program. Up next is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May we always feel the love and light of Heaven.
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