PHU LUANG – What should have been a horrifying scene when an enormous elephant charged a man at a sanctuary in Thailand was worthy of just a few chuckles by Tor Bowling who chooses to look at the situation as a positive experience.
An online video captured the bizarre encounter on the afternoon of Feb. 28 at the Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand.
Bowling is standing in a pathway as an elephant approached behind some greenery.
Suddenly the elephant charges and heads right at Bowling, but instead of running away in fear, he actually steps towards the enormous animal and extends his hand in a halting motion.
Amazingly the animal complies — letting out a huge shriek when he sees Bowling’s hand and turns to run away.
Bowling, 27, told reporters he was an engineer but was bored by his job so he decided to quit and travel for a month with his friend Navee Kittisak.
He visited the sanctuary so he could see a dinosaur footprint and on his way back he saw the elephant.
The resident of Chonburi Thailand said when he first saw the elephant, which is not included in the video clip, he did not move and stared at the elephant for a long time. He tried to back away slowly but the elephant moved back with him.
When the animal suddenly charged at him Bowling said he was scared and extended his hand as a reaction. It was not premeditated, he said. He did not think about what he would do if the elephant charged him, he said.
“But I’m sure. it didn’t want to hurt me,” he said based on its reaction.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the video is the seemingly nonchalant way Bowling reacted.
After the animal fled, Bowling then turns around to his friend, who was filming the incident, and just chuckles.
As the elephant disappears back into the jungle he lets out another loud sound, and Bowling turns to his friend and chuckles again.
But Bowling said his reaction was the product of an extremely positive attitude he has – especially now that he is traveling and trying to find a new direction for his life.
“I always think (everything that happens to me) is a special moment and I think I’m lucky to have had the chance to experience that,” he said. “I don’t need (to think of things) as bad memories. So I smile to make it a good situation.”
Bowling said he thinks of this experience as a good memory and not a scary incident.
When asked if he would want to see an elephant again Bowling said he wouldn’t mind seeing one but he wouldn’t go to a location just to see them.
And Bowling said he wants to emphasize the elephant was not hurt and he did not try to provoke the animal.
The majority of comments from viewers of the video have been negative as people thought he was trying to instigate the confrontation or that the elephant was injured.
“I didn’t get angry and blame them because the clip is too short (and they didn’t see the full encounter),” he said.
That’s because he’s staying positive yet again.