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The Maerim Elephant Sanctuary (Phukao Elephant Park) was born out of a love and compassion for the largest, most majestic beasts to walk the planet. Sadly, in our home of Thailand, and the surrounding countries of Mynamar, Laos and Cambodia, some of these extraordinary animals live in captivity, are used for heavy labor on logging farms and even hunted in the wild. After witnessing the horrors the elephants experienced, our founder, Busabong "Pui" Kuetkong, started the sanctuary so that she could rescue as many elephants as she could from the awful environments and conditions they endure.
Her first rescue was a life-threatening and life-changing experience. She had heard of a logging farm in the very south of Myanmar where elephants were chained and beaten, malnourished and forced to work harder and for longer every day. She focused her efforts and managed to raise funds to help just one abused and desperate elephant from logging , South Myanmar. She had to travel deep into the jungle where she was going to meet the animal captors; alone and scared she haggled and argued with them all day, until finally after some aggressive negotiating, they were willing to let her take the poor elephant. No matter the money or the size of their machete's, she won that day.
Terrified for her own life and those of the elephant's, she made a promise to always show the elephants love, to respect them, and care for them through sickness and health. 6 years later, through COVID19 and desperate financial times, she has gone on to teach hundreds of local Thai's and tourists alike about the maltreatment of the elephants in South East Asia, and the cruelty of practices like hooking, long phase chaining and elephant riding that can still be found in some parks across the country.
Can you believe that some people do not believe these practices are cruel, painful to the elephants and exploitative of such undeserving creatures? No, neither can we.
Thanks to her bravery and determination we now have 6 elephants at the Sanctuary, Isara, Duang Jan, DuangDee, Doi Po, Chompoo, Buatong, Heidi, who are cared for, loved and respected by all our staff and visitors every single day. Her vision for the future of the sanctuary is to grow our pride of elephants to 10, and to introduce a breeding programme to sustain these animals, with the view to release them back into the wild when the time and location are right.