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Projects in Thailand

Wheels are on their way!

Chris Rico

The funding for the new mobile veterinarian vehicle was sent to Chiang Mai University in mid-September. While the vehicle will be put into service as soon as it is ready, the official dedication will be on March 13, 2019. This is Thai Elephant Day and an appropriate (and fun) time to be in Chiang Mai. All directors are invited and we will share pictures, including of the vehicle in service, in our April 2019 Newsletter.

THANK YOU to all who participated in the Tee-shirt campaign as well as otherwise helped raise the funds to make this wish a reality. You are awesome and we can only help people help elephants because you are the ones truly helping!

EREC Bonfire T-shirt Campaign

Chris Rico

Benefitting the EREC New Mobile Vet Unit

We are excited to announce a new way to help us purchase a mobile vet truck for Chiang Mai University Vet Department to provide care for the surrounding area's elephants.

Dr. Yeaw performing a blood draw from the ear.  Typically blood draws are performed from the ear, but they can also be done on the rear leg while the elephant is standing.

Currently they are using one vehicle for 4 veterinarians to make house calls to local elephant camps.  AES would like to provide them with a second vehicle to be shared among the vets and to make sure they have a backup in case one breaks down.  The campaign is set to run for 10 days, from July 15th - July 25th.

We'd like to sell as many t-shirts as we can so please share this campaign with everyone you know and buy a couple shirts for yourself!  This is a special, one-of-a-kind shirt only available for this fundraiser.  It features our logo and the EREC logo in white on a charcoal grey shirt.

Thank you and we will keep everyone posted on the progress via our Facebook page!

Dr. Yeaw performing an eye exam

Dr. Yeaw with a newly collected blood sample

Thailand Trip 2018

Chris Rico

Thailand is the country where Linda first landed in her quest to see Asian elephants on their home turf. Over the years, many good relationships and programs have offered the opportunity for AES to collaborate and support efforts benefiting both Asian elephants and the people who care for and about them.

Chiang Mai, one of the northern Thailand tourist destinations, is a good base on visits.  Long-time friend, Julia Ferdinand, domiciled here, is always good logistics support and the all important ‘wheels’. So, too, this trip.

Our first stop is a long drive for a brief, but very good visit, to catch up with John Roberts at The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) base at the Anantara Resort, near the Golden Triangle.  Through GTAEF, John offers an excellent and flexible elephant experience opportunity for tourists, while also always alert for programs and efforts to help improve captive elephant care where needed, as well as responding to requests for funding for educational, rescue, and other worthwhile efforts.  AES has collaborated with GTAEF on a few occasions and looks forward to doing more together in the future.

The following day we visit the University of Chiang Mai’s Veterinary School.  Linda is fortunate to know a few of the staff from our conferences and workshops, and she knows the effort they are making toward advances in elephant health care but had never before visited.  After a very good meeting with Drs. Chatchote Thitaram and Chaleamchat Somgird, Dr. Khajohnpat Boonpraseet (“Dr. Yeaw”) takes Linda to Patara Elephant Farm. Linda visited there 10+ years ago when Patara had 4 or 5 well-cared for elephants and great sounding plans.  They almost sounded impossible! But, 2018, and Theerapat (“Pat”) Trungprekan has more than delivered on this promise.

Now 57 elephants strong, with three calves born last year and five expected births this year, Patara is helping to stabilize the Thai elephant population.  At the same time, a great tourist opportunity is offered. Staff is kind and friendly and both know and respect the animals under their care. Linda saw a comment on a tourist industry website that said, “If your trip to Thailand includes one day in Chiang Mai, spend it here.  If not, add a day and spend it here,” and thinks that is some pretty good advice!


The next day, Linda rode along as Dr. Yeaw visited several elephant camps to treat elephants; mostly he is drawing blood to examine the cycling of selected females. First stop is Maetaman Camp.  Over the years, Linda has been here many times. At present, they have 60+ elephants, some owned by camp owner, some are owned by others and brought here to work. Dr. Yeaw does 11 blood draws, all to check the cycles of these breeding-age females.  The work goes smoothly with all but one elephant waiting her turn quietly and all cooperating like real pros. The one exception squeaked when she felt the needle but otherwise was a good girl. Maybe she’s new to the program! All elephants seen were between their late teens and into their 40s.

Next, we visit Rimtan Elephant Camp, a small camp with just a few elephants and did one blood draw.


A bit farther we stopped at Elephant Carer Home: no draws, no elephants in sight.  Just a visit to ‘check in’ and be sure all is good. Then a visit to Elephant Rescue Home where we see 5 elephants: 2 adults and 3 juveniles.  Give a tetanus inoculation to one elephant and looked at an inflamed eye on another.

Last stop is Baanchang Elephant Park.  Met the woman owner to treat a female elephant who is bossy and a fighter but picked the wrong gal for her last battle, and besides lots of skinned up places, has a horribly swollen front leg Dr. Yeaw is treating.  They have 54 elephants there and the facilities are quite new, well laid out, decently designed, and look like good materials and construction. And, these elephants get preventative medicine and have veterinarians on the premise.

Richard and Linda

Richard and Linda

No visit to Chiang Mai would be complete without a day trip to Lampang to visit with Richard Lair.  An American who has been working in Thailand for more decades than we care to admit at this point, he is a true authority on not only the Asian elephant in Thailand and other Asian countries, but also the Thai history, culture, and language.  We are proud he is an AES adviser.

The last day in Chiang Mai concluded with Dr. Yeaw and Pat, owner of Patera, and Linda at dinner.  It was an excellent meeting and Linda agreed to help the newly forming Thailand Elephant Alliance (the owners of working elephants) which is being set up to both improve camps where needed and to educate the public on good elephant husbandry as well as the history and culture of Thai elephants and their owners/mahouts.  Not sure how she/AES can be of assistance, but we are eager to help where possible.

Mom and calf at Elephantstay  

Mom and calf at Elephantstay

After six days based in Chiang Mai, a last visit to Ayutthaya and the Elephantstay program at the Royal Kraal.  Linda always has a horrible time getting tuk-tuk drivers to get her to the right destination. Finally, Ewa and Michelle explain to her it’s her pronunciation – comes out not meaning anything to the driver (who evidently isn’t good at 20 Questions, but sure tries!).  It was a short visit, but a good time watching the bulls delivering fodder to the ‘elderly ladies’ in the Elephantstay program and the antics of two young calves.

Personal note from Linda:  I always return from any trip to Asia more convinced than ever that Asian Elephant Support has it right.  Concentrating our funding in Asia is without a doubt the best investment we – and our donors – can make. Lots of challenges ahead to get these magnificent animals into the next century, but if we look at ‘challenges’ as opportunities for us to put our commitment and resources toward – and with the support and encouragement of you, our donors and friends – we are confident we can be an important contributor to this effort.  Thank YOU – for helping us help elephants.

In July we will commence a campaign to provide The Center for Excellence in Elephant Research and Education a second vehicle. Stay tuned!

Update on Flooding at the Royal Kraal

Vanessa Gagne

We wanted to provide our loyal supporters with an update on the flooding in Ayuttaya, Thailand where Elephantstay is located. So many animals and people were affected (and too many died) throughout Thailand, and our friends at Elephantstay have suffered substantial flood damage.

We’ve been keeping in contact with Ewa and Michelle who live in Ayuttaya at the Royal Kraal. The flood waters had fully submerged ElephantStay and the Kraal for weeks on end. In an update on November 23rd, we learned the water had receded from inside the Kraal, but it needed to dry before anything further happened and the moms and calves were still stranded on the wall. By the 28th, the moms and calves were in the process of moving back to the Kraal and the Nursery was finally dry, but Elephantstay was not. The office was completely destroyed.

While it is an immense relief that the waters have finally begun to recede, now begins the hard part of rebuilding something that was already so functional and a part of many visitors’ memories. Of course, rebuilding will take time, patience, and a whole lot of money. So, if you’re looking for a way to help, please consider Elephantstay. They will use every penny that’s sent their way.

We would like to send a special thank you to those who have already donated money to help Elephantstay and the Kraal. Your money is being put to good use and is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your support. Together, we are helping lighten the burden this flood has put on the shoulders of the Elephantstay staff.   

Flooding at the Royal Elephant Kraal and New Birth

Chris Reifschneider

Field where the elephants used to sleep

Field where the elephants used to sleep

In 2010, the Royal Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya suffered devastating impacts from flooding. Flooding meant evacuation for both people and elephants.

The people who live and work with the elephants moved to wherever they needed to be to provide care.The cost for recovery was high and the work to rebuild was hard.

Elephantstay team hut

Elephantstay team hut

On top of the damage from floodwaters, they had to turn away many visitors with the ElephantStay program, so it was devastating on all fronts. Asian Elephant Support collected donations to help the Kraal rebuild.

Sai Chon is blessed

Sai Chon is blessed

2011 was another devestating year.  So many animals and people were affected (and too many died) throughout Thailand, and our friends at Elephantstay suffered substantial flood damage. The flood waters fully submerged ElephantStay and the Kraal for weeks on end. AES helped again with a fundraising campaign.

In the midst of this disaster in 2010 was a reason for celebration. To the delight of many, a baby girl named Sai Chon was born to Pang Pootson. Fortunately, she was healthly and strong. Because the temporary field was not an good place for a baby, Sai Chon and her mom had to walk back to the historic Kraal where the other moms and babies were staying. The road was closed due to flooding, so they had to walk on their own, but with quite an entourage of mahouts and admirers who stopped often to make sure Sai Chon and mom got enough rest.  To see more pictures please follow this link.