Some of us have enjoyed the thrill of riding on the back of an elephant. Most of us have passed time watching them perform at a show. A lot of the thrill evaporates, however, when we realize what those elephants likely had to endure to become the docile obedient beasts that we see.
A report by the World Animal Protection (WAP) agency detailed their agony.
“Cruelly taken from the wild or bred in captivity,” the report reads, “these elephants are separated from their mothers and family groups at just a few months old. Elephants destined for the tourist industry experience great physical and mental trauma. Isolation, starving, hitting and beating are just some of the methods used to initially break their spirits. The only training these people know to get them to behave and perform.”
There are thousands of Asian elephants languishing in trekking camps — the places where these animals are so harshly “trained.”
One such elephant, after a lifetime of living with heavy chains binding her night and day, was finally able to break free from the trauma. Her freedom came thanks to the generous donations from elephant lovers around the world.
The 40-year-old elephant Gan Da (also known as Darling) likely has little memory of a life before working in the trekking camp, since she’s spent most of her life there. She was probably trained using the same harsh tactic as the WAP reported.
“Thailand currently has a captive population of over 3,500 individuals and a wild population of approximately 3,200,” Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), which runs an elephant refuge for animals like Gan Da, wrote.
There was a huge celebration at the Foundation when an Australian woman agreed to sponsor Gan Da. This facilitated her rescue and relocation to the refuge. Finally, the poor elephant could get a taste of a freedom she had never known.
“We were contacted by her owner who wanted to retire her from the tourism industry,” Tom Taylor, manager of the Wildlife Rescue Center & Elephant Refuge for WFFT, told The Dodo. “Luckily we had a recent fundraiser for elephants in Sydney, Australia, which allowed us to rescue her.”
Gan Da, or Darling, walked docilely up onto the bed of the truck. She had no idea her life had already begun to change, for the better.
The truck pulled away from the only home she’d known. It had been a life filled with grief and agony, but now she was headed for the highway and freedom. We have no way of knowing if it was Gan Da’s first ride, but she seemed to enjoy it.
Perhaps it was the wind tickling her ears, perhaps it was the first whiff of freedom, but as they pulled into the driveway of her new home, her tail gave its first happy wag.
Once she was unloaded, she was given treats and lots of loving attention. Most likely the first of either that she had ever known. In 40 years. Can you imagine?
She was introduced to her new home. A beautiful place to spend the rest of her, hopefully, happy and uneventful life.
As the final chain was forever removed from her foot, Gan Da received her first drink of cool, clear water. And soon after, was treated to her first gentle, relaxing bath from a hose.
Even giving herself a dust bath was sheer joy for an animal that had lived most of her life in a small cage with barely enough room to move, except when she was working.
“After the long journey from the north of Thailand, Gan Da was very happy to get off the truck and stretch her legs,” WFFT wrote on Facebook. “Gan Da has spent her first day of freedom, chain free, munching away on an array of treats, adjusting to her new life.”
No animal should live its life in chains. You can help celebrate Gan Da’s retirement and make the retirement of other animals possible by making a donation to the refuge. Help set them all free!
Source: The Dodo