When it was time for an elephant from Yala to move into the palace in 1968, King Bhumibol Adulyadej reportedly sent a statement through his servants to also adopt the elephant’s best friend, a dog called “Nang Biew,” so the animals could be raised together at the palace.
This endearing story of the royal pachyderm “Phra Sawetsurakachatharn,” who was gift to the royal family from the people of Yala, was told by M.R. Kukrit Pramoj, a Thai politician and member of the royal family, in his book “The Elephants in my Life.”
It was written that Phra Surakachatharn was found when he was separated from his herd by a village headman in Yala when he was only a baby. Assuming that the mother elephant intended to leave her son as a gift to the royal family, the people of Yala planned to give the baby to the king when it was old enough.
But before he became the king’s elephant and a beloved friend to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Phra Surakachatharn befriended a female dog named “Nang Biew,” which translates as “twisted,” which the dog was called after her twisted mouth.
According to legend, Nang Biew became ill, but after she drank water that the elephant bathed in, her condition improved. Nang Biew was loyal to the elephant and never left his side. The elephant also cared for the dog, as if he was her owner.
When it was time for Phra Surakachatharn to move into the palace, Nang Biew yelped all day and night, as if she wanted to follow her best friend. That’s when King Bhumibol sent a statement through his servants, “We can take a whole elephant, why can’t we take the dog too? Please also bring in the dog. I feel sorry for it. Don’t separate them.”
On the king’s orders, Nang Biew followed the elephant to live in Chitralada Royal Villa in Bangkok. She was respectively called “Khun Biew” and had many pups during her years in the palace.
It was unclear when Nang Biew died, but the pachyderm reportedly still helped raise her pups. Whenever he went, a herd of pups ran after him.
Phra Surakachatharn was a loyal elephant to King Bhumibol and frequently followed HM the King to Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin. The pachyderm also had a chance to welcome Queen Elizabeth II from England.
Phra Surakachatharn passed away in 1977.
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