This page is dedicated to the life of Mae Bua Tong. Her name means ‘Miss Golden Lotus’. She was born in 1972 and given a new life by EleAid and the Daniels family on July 1st 2005.
If you would like to start at the beginning of her life start at the bottom of the page and scroll up.
Mae Bua Tong lives a very content life with her calf, Tong Jan and her new family, which includes Thai. She spends her days grazing, sleeping and enjoying a mud bath or two. She is a social elephant who will spend the rest of her life enjoying her freedom.
In the 15 months that Mae Bua Tong has been at the Park, her life has been transformed. Gone are the days of traipsing aimlessly up and down hills with tourists riding on her back. Instead, she has a safe home for her and her calf and a very stable and mutually supportive family group, a situation in which Bua Tong can flourish.
Tong Jan is now 21 months old and gaining in confidence every day. As a result, Bua Tong does not have the need to keep such a close eye on her. She also has the benefit of the support of an extended family group and Thai, Som Boon, Mae Elu and Mae Khamsai all take a role in calf care duties.
The support of the family group has given Bua Tong more opportunity to express herself and she has shown particular affection and interest in Max. Often she will sidle up to him and caress and explore him with her trunk – advances which Max appears to welcome and enjoy. As of yet, there has been no sign of mating but who knows what might happen. A sibling for Tong Jan sired by Max would be a dream come true.
Settling In – Summer/Autumn 2005
The first few months since moving to the Park have been a complete revelation to Mae Bua Tong. She surely cannot believe her luck no longer having to work from 8 am every day. Instead she is free to roam the Park at her whim and able to lavish attention on her calf. The early signs that Mae Elu and Kham Sai would be nannies proved false. Instead former rivals Thai and Som Boon has joined the family group and the four elephants are almost always seen together.
Rescue and a New Life
EleAid was only able to rescue the two elephants thanks to enormous contributions from the Daniels family of London. The whole family gave exceptionally generous donations and Olivia Daniels, whom we met in Thailand, sacrificed her 21st birthday present opting to put the money to saving these two wonderful elephants rather than have a gift for herself.
On 1st July 2005 Olivia was with Lek and the two elephants when they left the tourist camp for the last time. It was only a three mile walk and they arrived at the Park just before sunset.
The first night at their new home was quite fraught. Mae Bua Tong was nervous in the new environment especially as her adventurous youngster kept wandering off to explore. At one time Bua Tong was so alarmed by the baby?s absence that she threatened to break down her shelter. However the Park’s mahouts calmed her and made sure the baby stayed close to mother for the remainder of the night.
The next morning all the Park’s female elephant came over to inspect and welcome the new arrivals. There was a great sense of excitement especially at the presence of a five month old calf. A competition started between the elephants as to who would be the calf’s aunties. Initially it appeared that Mae Elu and Mae Kham Sai would get the honour and both bonded very quickly with the baby.
Mae Bua Tong’s Life before Rescue
Mae Bua Tong, meaning Miss Golden Lotus, was born in 1972.
She worked for many year in various tourist camps in northern Thailand. Sometimes she took part in shows by perfoming meaningless tricks, playing basketball and so on but mostly she was used as a trekking elephant. Her big size and gentle demeanor made her perfect for giving tourists rides in a chair on her back. It is hard work going up and down hills for up to six hours a day.
In 2003 Mae Bua Tong fell pregnant and on Valentine’s Day 2005 gave birth to a beautiful female calf. She was an excellent mother closely tending to her baby and ensuring she felt safe and secure. However Bua Tong’s owners were under contract to the tourist camp and they were forced to impel the new mother to return to work.
For up to six hours a day she was forced to give tourist rides in the mountains. The poor baby had to walk alongside and because of her young age often struggled to keep up. At only a few months old the calf was entirely dependent on her mother’s milk for food but because of the long hours Bua Tong had to work she was not getting enough nutrition. Very soon, the health of both mother and baby began to suffer. They both started to get ill.
The elephants owners were unhappy with the situation and approached Lek to see if she would help. Lek was prepared to take the mother and baby to the Elephant Nature Park but only on the condition that they remained there permanently. She offered to purchase both mother and baby and soon a price was agreed