Name in Thai: Umbrella
Where Now: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
Location: near the village of Baan Tuek in Sukhothai, North Thailand
For more Photos of Lom see them at: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary Lom / Umbrella
Katherine Connor, founder of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary has spoken of this sweet elephant as “the life and soul of the BLES family”. Yet her homecoming to the sanctuary in 2006 was far from an effortless transition. For this little elephant was still encumbered by her years of mistreatment and neglect on the streets of Chiang Mai.
Lom’s story begins as a young calf “used for begging to the tourist trade”. It seems that sugar cane is not only the source of income for the masters of these baby elephants but also the sole source of nourishment for the tiny calves.
While dragging their charges through the streets of Thailand (sometimes by their ears, legs, or forcefully being “shot from behind with an air gun”) these still milk-dependent elephant babies are then slovenly loaded with the sugar cane “piled upon their backs”. As unknowing tourists approach these adorable baby elephants (actually, the calves are overly “skinny, filthy, and visibly distressed”) they are expected to purchase the sugar cane, and until or unless they do, “these elephants simply” will not be fed.
Time & time again a multitude of “street elephants” are left “disoriented” and malnourished from the treatment of their owners. And this is the sorry state that Katherine and Anon of BLES find these baby elephants in.
In Lom’s case she was not actually the elephant BLES was notified, “by the local police,” to rescue. That calf had died before they were able to find him. But in that search two more baby elephants “working on the streets” were spotted in a “very critical state”.
Katherine immediately contacted friends and “fellow elephant-welfare organizations,” sending them photographs and emails urging them to “donate funds”. The money came in , but “not quickly enough”.
Alon (of BLES), who had negotiated a price with the owners of the elephant calves, was soon left standing as they just “disappeared when the cash was not in-hand”. After a couple of attempts to locate the two baby elephants they “originally sought” Alon was successful. But by then the money needed to secure the babies was less than adequate.
It was, in fact, “drastically short” and that is when the “elephants umbrella fund” saved the day but, sadly, for only one small calf. (“As Lom was the smaller, younger, and more distressed of the two, with painful deliberation, she was chosen for the Sanctuary. Survival of the remaining calf has never been confirmed.”)
Appropriately this little elephant was named after the portion of the fund that saved her by people who care for her and about her very much. But it has not been without extreme patience and love that LOM (Umbrella) has found her peace at BLES.
At first she barely knew how to act like an elephant. Instead of seeking out fresh grasses to eat she would reach for “trash and plastic bags”. She carried with her phobias from her former street life which she “exhibited in her panic, unpredictable reactions”, and in her inability to be touched.
LOM was also frightened of “loud noises” and the rushing sounds of water. Her social skills among other elephants at the sanctuary were such that she would “run in fear” at their very sight.
As time progressed at the sanctuary and the BLES mahouts would patiently guide her, Lom came to love this new place she called home. It became a very special place because unbeknownst to either elephant a sense of peace and love would soon be established between a mama elephant who had lost her baby and a calf who had lost her mama. To this day Pang Tong and Lom are “inseparable and continue to thrive in the comfort of each other’s companionship”. And you can’t get a happier ending than that.
For information on how to Adopt Lom see: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
Photo credit: BLES