When Chaba arrived at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, the baby elephant carefully took in her new surroundings.
If she was nervous, she didn’t have to feel that way for long. Before Chaba knew it, another baby elephant, Pyi Mai, was running over to offer a comforting hug by interlocking their trunks.
“It was as if Pyi Mai was saying, ‘Welcome home!’” park projects director Ry Emmerson told The Dodo. “We knew then they were going to be the best of friends!”
According to Emmerson, elephants often hug by wrapping their trunks together. Much like a human hug, these displays of affection are meant to show love and support.
As their friendship grew, Chaba and Pyi Mai began hugging often.
“They are constantly communicating through vocalizations and touch,” Emmerson said. “If one of the babies wanders away from her friend, the other will immediately call [for her] to come back … The love they show to each other is pure and unconditional. It’s something we can all learn from and so heartwarming to witness.”
Chaba and Pyi Mai both arrived at the sanctuary with their mothers after being rescued from tourist attractions that mistreat the animals.
Safe in their new home, the babies now get to live out the rest of their lives in a herd, as they would in the wild, doing all their favorite activities.
“Their favorite time is playing in the mud pit together,” Emmerson said. “[They] will often stay in the mud playing for hours with careless abandon.”
Already, Chaba and Pyi Mai have developed a reputation around the rescue for their supportive, affectionate, and occasionally mischievous relationship.
“They are both extremely gentle, loving, and playful elephants,” Emmerson said. “We lovingly call them ‘double trouble.’ They are inseparable, always playing and getting up to mischief together — just as they should!”
Together forever, neither member of this dynamic duo ever has to feel alone. Each knows that their best friend is always nearby, happy to extend a trunk and offer a hug.