This is the touching moment when a young elephant gallops into a fast-flowing river to save her “drowning” human best buddy.
The five-year-old Asian elephant Kham Lha was walking along the side of the stream when Darrick Thomson, 42, leaped in.
After Kham Lha was saved from an abusive owner last year and Darrick cared for her recovery, the two developed an “inseparable relationship.”
The young calf jumped into the water to save her best friend when she noticed he appeared to be struggling.
As Darrick splashes and pleads for assistance, she runs into the water and carefully brings him to the shore.
The remarkable event was caught on video and helps demonstrate the powerful connection that may exist between animals and people.
Check out the full video below:
Darrick, who traveled to northern Thailand to work with elephants but is originally from Toronto, Ontario, 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.”
Some young elephants are tied up and beaten into obedience as part of the cruel training technique known as crushing.
The technique is still employed in Thailand’s elephant tourism sector to calm down the animals and make them safer for tourists to ride.
Such brutality can leave lifelong scars, but thanks to Darrick and the rest of the Save Elephant Foundation personnel, Kham Lha recovered quickly.
She and many other elephants are now free to roam the protected jungle refuge.
A spokesman for the foundation 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.”
Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, senior wildlife and veterinary adviser at World Animal Protection, said: “Tourists may think activities like riding an elephant do no harm, but the brutal truth is that breaking these animals’ spirits to the point that they allow humans to interact with them involves cruelty at every turn.”