Name: Thong Dee
Affectionately Known As: Yai, meaning grandmother in Thai
Elephant’s Job: “Taxi Elephant” : “from 7 in the morning ’til 8 in the evening – all day, every day – giving tourists rides.” & former logging elephant
Age When Rescued: “In her late fifties” on the day of her rescue 25 July 2015
Elephant Friends: This elephant was loved by everyone, human & elephant alike. So she was never without friends including, initially; The Gossip Girls (Wassana Pang Dow & Beautiful Lotus), Boon Thong, Pang Noi & Pang Suai. As Thong Dee became more settled into her new home she gravitated toward the “older elephants like Boon Thong, Permpoon, Sontaya, Sao Noi, and Ngor”. And don’t forget Mr. Moo!
Where Elephant Lived: Pattaya, Southern Thailand
Date of Death: October 2017
Elephant’s Home: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
Location: near the village of Baan Tuek in Sukhothai, North Thailand
For information on this Sweet Elephant’s Life & more photos see: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary : Thong Dee
Remember Me: Adopt Thong Dee, in her memory, at BLES
Oftentimes her days were never ending, having spent her entire life as an indentured elephant, if you will. If not hauling giant logs the elephant was kept in chains (she also survived attacks by an elephant stable mate) or carrying tourists upon her back. Her back so compromised by the elephant “riding chair” that Thong Dee lost all of her elephant hair in that spot.
Thong Dee was welcomed to the BLES with feast fit for a Queen. Fresh fruits were laid out before her (the “welcome buffet,”) with the pachyderm particularly savoring the mangoes.
Thong Dee was known to love her walks into the forest (even after she first arrived “depressed & tired” she showed no malice & was “eager to join in” with her new elephant family.) This sweet elephant also found peace “under the shady Samcha trees” scratching herself and splashing her wrinkled body with mud.
Thong Dee never had a chance to be an elephant but for just a short while. This after her owner decided to “retire” the tired and worn out elephant to the sanctuary known as BLES.
It was there that Thong Dee found her true home, never looking back. She lived her life as an elephant with total abandon, relished her life as an elephant until the day her tired soul & body gave out and she quietly lay down & passed away.
“BLES your beautiful heart and soul Thong Dee…. You have left this world a brighter place and we are better beings, because of you. We will always love you.” Read Katherine’s eloquent essay on the passing of this most-loved elephant : “The Sweetest Elephant Ever – ‘Granny’ Thong Dee”
See Video of “The Rescue of Thong Dee” on Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – BLES Facebook
Please note: all quotations taken from BLES’ Meet Our Elephants: Thong Dee unless otherwise linked above.
Credit: CC Flickr by zhudandan : Drawing of little elephant / tree of life