She gets to stay in the water for as long as she wants.
Nam Phon the elephant has lived a harsh life in the entertainment business, like all elephants in the industry do, but she is lucky enough to have been rescued.
Her story began when she was just a baby, as experts say that Nam Phon was most likely stolen from the wild and ripped away from her mother by poachers that sold her into the tourism industry. She first retired in 2004 at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, where she spent 6 years relaxing and finally enjoying life.
After spending 43 years in elephants camps and being forced to give ride after ride everyday to visitors, Nam Phon was finally free of her chains: or so she thought. In 2010, her old owners took her back when WFFT was an underfunded program that couldn’t afford to permanently keep its elephants in retirement.
Both Nam Phon and WFFT were devastated when she was forced to resume her old job, and the organization negotiated with the owners for years to get her back at their facility. After another 6 years of working, the beautiful elephant returned to WFFT permanently to live out the rest of her days.
At the age of 55, she has a slew of medical problems caused by the hard labor she performed everyday. Her back legs are slightly lame, and she recently suffered from a collapsing episode that left her motionless for several days. After her caretakers finally got her up, they fitted her with a special hoist to help get her walking and now she is walking all on her own.
As part of her recovery, she does undergoes different therapies to help regain her strength.
“She currently goes into the specially created medical pool once a day and spends however long she wants to in the pool,” Tom Taylor, assistant director of WFFT, told The Dodo. He added, “The daily swimming sessions will strengthen her muscles, as well as giving her something to smile about.”
It does take a bit of convincing to get her into the pool and keep her motivated, but they say that food and words of encouragement help. Now that Nam Phon is safe and in her forever home, she can live as an elephant should rather than as a slave for humans. She even has a best friend, Jele, who is also a senior elephant that was found cruelly chained to a tree.
If you would like to help free other elephants like Nam Phon and Jele, you can donate here.
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