CHIANG MAI – Kham Lha, the youngest elephant at Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand, and her favorite staffer, Darrick Thomson, 42, share a really special bond.
Which is why when she spotted Darrick swimming across the river, she rushed into the water to try to save him.
Incredible footage shows an elephant rushing to the rescue of her favorite trainer, who she believed to be drowning.
Darrick Thomson, 42, has formed an ‘inseparable bond’ with five-year-old Kham Lha since she was brought to the reserve last year. He pretended that he was in trouble to demonstrate their special relationship
Darrick is seen smiling as he peers at the camera while holding onto the elephant’s legs.Â ,Â who is originally from Toronto, Canada, pretended that he had got into trouble in the river, splashing and crying out for help.
When five-year-old Kham Lha reaches Darrick, she uses her trunk to try and lift him up before putting one of her legs around him.Â When Kham Lha reaches Darrick, she uses her trunk to try and lift him up putting one of her legs around him in an attempt to bring him to safety
Darrick said: ‘Kham Lha was in a really bad way when she came to us.
‘She had been tied up and forced to undergo cruel training known as crushing to prepare her to work in the tourist industry. ‘We freed her and helped her to recover. She became really close to me and we formed a strong bond.
‘I went in the river to show just how remarkable the relationship with humans is. And that if you show warmth and kindness to them, they will treat you well, too.’
Crushing is a brutal training method where young elephants are tied up and beaten into submission.
The method is used in Thailand’s elephant tourism industry to make elephants more subdued and safer for holidaymakers to ride.
After being rescued, Kham Lha now wanders freely through the protected jungle sanctuary with dozens of other elephants.
A spokesman at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai said: ‘We’re all really pleased with Kham Lha’s progress and how well she’s adapted.
‘She’s now a happy young elephant. The video shows just how close she is to Darrick and it’s an important lesson to be kind to animals.’
Elephant Nature Park was founded on the premise that elephant tourism can be accomplished in a safe and healthy environment for the animals. Lek Chailert who runs the Elephant Nature Park has devoted her life to recusing elephants and educating the world on the horrors that they face in the tourism and logging industries.
Born in the rural villages in Northern Thailand, Chailert was rescuing and caring for ailing animals since childhood. As an adult, Chailert channeled her energy into raising awareness about the abusive tactics used to â€œtrainâ€ elephants.
Elephant Nature Park doesnâ€™t only cater to elephants. On site, there is over 500 dogs, many of whom were rescued from the catastrophic floods of Bangkok in 2011.
Chailertâ€™s husband Darrick Thomson, a Canadian who moved to Chiang Mai after meeting his wife, has a soft spot for the dogs that roam in the numerous â€œrunsâ€ across the road from the elephantâ€™s land.
Elephant Nature Park Dogs provides vets, medicine and a home for these forgotten K9s. With over 200 cats, countless water buffalo, and even a recent rescue of a starving horse, Chailert and Thomson refuses to turn away any animal in need, and continue to obtain more land in order to expand their rescue efforts.Â
Chailert and Thomson work tirelessly in order to save as many animals as possible, devoting their lives to saving these beautiful animals.Â
Lek travels throughout Asia and Thailand on a mission to convince elephant tourism operators that responsible business practices, not just elephant riding, can also lead to a profitable business, she has freed almost 100 elephants from abusive situations.