People were losing their minds today over photos of a dutiful elephant who climbed down from the back of a truck to help his mahout clear a road blocked by fallen trees.
The 52-year-old bull called Jareuk (Inscription), became a fast sensation online after images spread of him removing full-grown, toppled trees from a road yesterday in the central province of Nakhon Sawan.
“Thank you so much you elephant you! You are such a smart one,” wrote Facebook user Bazman Nong Khalai Sing, who witnessed and documented the scene in a now-viral post.
The mahout pictured astride Jareuk was tracked down and identified by JS100 as farmer Lamead Toloh. Lamead said they were traveling on the road yesterday at about 3pm when they encountered heavy traffic.
Lamead exited the vehicle and quickly realized some large fallen trees had blocked the street. He saw a number of people trying and mostly failing to remove the trees by chopping at their branches ineffectually.
That was when he put Jareuk to work.
“I told everyone to make a path for me, I have a helper! Then I opened the back of my truck and brought Jareuk down. I whispered to him, ‘Jareuk, please help dad clear the road, traffic cannot move,’ and, just like that, Jareuk walked over to the trees and moved them to the side with his trunk,” Lamead told JS100.
“Jareuk picked up whatever branch I told him to. After a short while, traffic opened up again. People clapped for us, took photos and many even gave me money to buy a reward for Jareuk.”
It took about 30 minutes for Jareuk to clear the street.
Two hours later, Lamead said he got a call from his daughter saying that the elephant had gone viral.
“Jareuk is a happy, friendly and easygoing elephant. Everyone who meets him, loves him. I hope he knows how much people appreciated him and is very happy about it,” the mahout added.
Unlike many other elephants in the country, Lamead says that Jareuk doesn’t do much hard labor for he leads a lot of processions and shows. The pair do about two-to-three shows weekly all over the country.
Though elephants are the adored national symbol of Thailand, their domestication, which involves extensive physical abuse, is often held up as a bitter irony which is compounded by frequent mistreatment at zoos, camps and animal shows . Over the years, the kingdom’s elephant tourism industry is regularly linked to abuse and torture.
Right or wrong, many reacted positively to the images.
“Ordinary Thais, noble minds,” Facebook user Panya Suwannoi commented on the post this morning, praising the duo.