Pattaya elephant Nam Chok retires to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand sanctuary

Picture courtesy of Pattaya News.

In a momentous event, Nam Chok, an elderly elephant who has given rides to tourists in Pattaya for decades, has been granted retirement. In her sixties, she was released by her owner into the care of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), a sanctuary that offers a refuge for elephants.

Nam Chok, who is partially sighted, is suspected to have been captured from the wild and has spent the majority of her life in captivity. She was recently employed at a trekking camp in Pattaya where she provided entertainment and rides for tourists.

When the rescue team arrived at the camp for her, she still had her riding saddle on, indicating she had worked until her final day at the camp.

The journey from Pattaya to the WFFT sanctuary in Phetchaburi marked the beginning of Nam Chok’s retirement. Upon arrival, she was greeted by the warm faces of WFFT staff and volunteers who had prepared a hearty welcome of fresh fruit and special banana balls. Nam Chok relished her welcome feast immediately.

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The sanctuary is home to several rescue elephants including Duenphen and See Puak. Nam Chok encountered them on her walk to her new habitat, sharing an emotional moment of communication, marked by the raising of their trunks.

Nam Chok’s body bears the scars of a life of labour, suspected to have spent some years in the logging industry before her stint at the elephant trekking camp.

Health concerns

Her thin frame and digestive issues are health concerns alongside her partial blindness due to an injury inflicted by a bull hook. At WFFT, she will receive round-the-clock medical care from an expert veterinary team and enjoy a nutritious diet of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Nam Chok is slightly smaller than other older female rescue elephants at WFFT, but staff describe her as being calm and gentle. The sanctuary will provide lifetime care for her, alongside their 23 other rescue elephants.

They reside in large elephant enclosures, each up to 110 rai in size, featuring natural trees, lakes and grazing areas. Each resident elephant consumes around 300 kilogrammes of food every day.

Presently, Thailand is home to approximately 3,800 domestic elephants, a majority of whom work in the tourism or logging industries. Conversely, in the wild, there are only around 3,500 individuals left, who inhabit the open grasslands and dense rainforests spread across the country.

To lend support to WFFT’s initiatives and the lifelong care for elephants like Nam Chok, please visit the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand’s website.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand is one of South East Asia’s largest animal sanctuaries, home to over 700 animals. The sanctuary’s mission is to rescue and rehabilitate captive wild animals, offering a permanent home to those who cannot safely return to the wild.

The sanctuary houses more than 60 species of animals, including 24 elephants, nine tigers, and over 300 primates. It also aims to raise awareness about wildlife conservation and animal exploitation, educating tourists and local communities about the urgent issues affecting animals today.

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Pattaya News


Top is a multifaceted news writer with a keen interest in real estate and travel. Top currently covers local Thai news at Thaiger. As a travel buff, Top blogs about his travels- around the world and Thailand- during his free time.

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