PETCHABURI – The American tourist apparently trampled to death by elephants in Thailand has been identified as Lily Glidden, she was a recent college graduate from Tompkins County who loved animals, The State Department said Friday.
Lily Glidden, of Freeville, had been missing for several days in Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National Park, about 125 miles southwest of Bangkok. The park is a preserve famous for its elephants. Thai authorities believe she was photographing them when she was killed.
Her body was found Jan. 18, and Thai officials announced the death Thursday. Her death was confirmed by U.S. State Department, which offered no additional details.
Seventy people had been searching for her after she was first reported missing on Jan. 13.
Col. Woradet Suanklaai, with the Thai park rangers, said Glidden had been seriously injured, leading authorities to conclude she was attacked by elephants. An autopsy in Bangkok will determine the official cause of death.
“Looking at the pictures she took in her camera, we see a lot of animals, birds, snakes, lizards,” Woradet told The Associated Press.
“We assumed she wanted to take pictures of elephants because that’s what the Kaeng Krachan National Park is famous for,” Woradet said.
Glidden’s family told NBC News on Friday that she was a “fearless” outdoor researcher who knew how to handle dangerous animals.
“We believe that what happened to Lily was a result of unknowable and unusual circumstances which she must have been unable to foresee or prevent,” her family said in a statement.
“Lily was very aware of the dangers of working with wildlife and not a person to court foolish risks, particularly where animals were involved,” her family said.
The statement said Glidden was comfortable with animals and had educated respect for the natural world. The family said she did extensive solo hiking and backpacking throughout the West, and knew how to respond to chance encounters with bears and other potentially dangerous animals.
“She was also a fearless individual. … We would wish her remembered as an extremely competent professional in her chosen field,” the family’s statement said.
Glidden graduated cum laude from Tufts University in 2012. While attending Tufts, near Boston, she was the president of the Mountain Club and the Ultimate Frisbee team.
At 11, she began volunteer work with the Primitive Pursuits program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. After being mentored in the program for four years, she was hired as a youth instructor.
Glidden earned her degree in biology, and she had done work trapping wolves in the western United States, handling venomous snakes in Hong Kong and counting game animals on the Serenegti plain. She completed a nine-month naturalist training course at the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington state, and also time at the Vermont Wilderness School learning survival and wilderness skills.
Tufts University released a statement on Friday mourning Glidden’s death.
“Lily Glidden graduated from Tufts in 2012 with a major in biology. We are saddened by the death of this talented young woman, and extend our sympathy to her family and friends,” the statement said.
Glidden’s Facebook page hosts pictures of her travels and wildlife work. One image, posted from Hong Kong in the fall, showed her holding a huge cobra and wearing a T-shirt with an image of an elephant.