At Elephant Nature Park (ENP) in Thailand, there’s an enchanting tale of an elephant named Faa Mai and her unwavering affection for Lek Chailert, the park’s founder.
Chailert has often expressed her delight and sometimes amusement at Faa Mai’s heartwarming demonstrations of affection, which sometimes translate into overprotective actions.
Recently, during a playful mud-bath, Faa Mai noticed Chailert and hurried over to share a mucky embrace, resulting in Chailert’s need for a clean-up at the nearby river.
Undeterred by Chailert’s departure, Faa Mai followed her, gently touching Chailert with her trunk in a constant check for her safety. Caught on video, this charming interaction showed Faa Mai’s continuous care as she used her trunk and even her foot to ensure Chailert’s well-being.
Now nine years old, Faa Mai’s caring attitude towards Chailert seems almost motherly. Chailert fondly recounts Faa Mai’s protective instinct, from guiding her away from the river to their delightful games of hide-and-seek and even being lulled to sleep by Chailert’s singing.
However, Faa Mai isn’t the only elephant at ENP showcasing such affectionate bonds. Kham Lha, another young elephant, once fearlessly jumped into the water to “save” Chailert’s husband, Darrick, despite no actual danger.
Most elephants at ENP, including Faa Mai’s mother, Mae Bua Tong, were rescued from strenuous labor in the tourism industry, common in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. Sadly, many elephants in these regions are overworked, often to exhaustion or even death.
Mae Bua Tong, who was previously forced into rigorous mountain treks for tourists, found sanctuary at ENP in 2005 alongside her older child, Tong Jan.
Faa Mai’s birth at the park marked a milestone as the first elephant born free at Elephant Nature Park, a testament to the park’s commitment to providing a safe haven for these magnificent creatures.