LAMPANG – What is believed to be the world’s first elephant hospital has been saved from closure after more than 20 million baht in donations streemed in from elephant lovers all over the world.
Since the founder of the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, Soraida Salwala, announced the organisation’s closure early last week due to inadequate funding, more than Bt20 million in public donations had flowed into one of the foundation’s accounts, giving its famed elephant hospital a reprieve.
Soraida Salwala, the secretary-general of the foundation, revealed the news on her Facebook page, saying its Kasikornbank account balance had reached 21.33 million baht, compared with just 1.38 million last Monday.
“I was lost for words, and could not hold back my tears,” she wrote. I told Doctor (vet) Ke to tell all staff of the foundation that I thanked them. Because of their work, the people have mercy for us to continue to our work. I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the people.”
The Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation runs the world’s first elephant hospital in Lampang province, which opened 25 years ago.
The foundation, set up in 1993, has been encountering financial problems for more than 11 years because of falling donations.
Ms Soraida said the foundation needed at least one million baht per month to look after five elephants at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang, owned by the foundation with around 10 staff. However, donations had been averaging only 400,000 baht a month.
The hospital drew worldwide attention in 2008 when it developed the world’s first prosthetic elephant leg. At least 15 of its patients have been land mine victims.
The foundation has succeeded in treating 4,651 elephants nationwide. It also campaigned successfully for a ban on elephants begging for food in Bangkok in 2010, and for legislation governing their welfare.
Its office, including the world’s first elephant hospital, is situated in Hang Chat district of the northern province of Lampang.
People wishing to help the foundation in its final year, may transfer money to Kasikron bank via its Ramintra branch at 088-2-20983-0 or SCB bank account, Ratchayothin branch, at 111-2-27207-8 or pay cash addressed to Friends of the Asian Elephant at Hang Chat district post office. Evidence of the donation can be sent to the foundation via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax 054-829-308.