In Thailand, a couple of elephants that had been kept as slaves for up to 80 years have finally been set free.
Elephants Boonme and Buabaan have spent most of their lives in the forestry and elephant-trekking industries, where they were forced to labor while chained until they were exhausted.
They were ultimately liberated from their owners and released into Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai following a large fundraising drive.
Christian Leblanc, a 23-year-old YouTube vlogger, and videographer from Canada, assisted in the rescue. He was instrumental in raising thousands of dollars to cover the cost of their release.
Boonme, 80, and Buaban, 50, now spend most of their time splashing around, playing, and munching on fresh fruit and veggies in their new backyard, which includes a river and mud bath.
“The elephants couldn’t be happier now. They’ve both made a new best friend named BaiCha and as a trio they’re inseparable,” said Christian.
“But before we freed them, they would’ve been giving dozens of people rides on their backs every day.”
“To the point where Boonme actually collapsed and had to be lifted by a crane so she could get back to work. That’s when we knew something had to be done.”
Christian and his colleagues traveled 15 hours by truck to Surin in order to find the couple.
The elephants were then moved in custom-built vehicles back to the Elephant Nature Park, a journey that took 23 hours.
The rescue is part of Christian’s planned documentary ‘Black Tusk,’ which aims to educate tourists about the brutality behind Thailand’s growing ‘elephant trekking’ industry.
Check out Christians’s Youtube channel here to see more of his videos.
Christian said: “Like humans, elephants are very social and so they show immense distress when they are treated as they are in the trekking camps and elephant entertainment parks.”
“You literally see them swaying back and forth and they will even let our cries of sadness and desperation. It’s truly horrific to see but I’m glad I did because it led me here.”
“We hope that by showing people the cruelty that elephants face, we can help end the suffering for these elephants and pave the path to responsible elephant tourism.”