Great news! Suffering Thai elephant trades concrete and chains for mud and sun (Photos)

Gluay Hom at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo and upon arrival to Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park. Images: The Save Elephant Foundation
Gluay Hom at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo and upon arrival to Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park. Images: The Save Elephant Foundation

Getting muddy under the open sky, a suffering elephant has been freed from the Bangkok zoo where his unhappy life had drawn global outrage to begin a new life at a well-regarded sanctuary.

Gluay Hom, the subject of a June National Geographic expose and PETA campaign, arrived Wednesday to Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park, which is considered the gold standard of elephant rescue and rehabilitation, following a 14-hour drive from Bangkok, according to the Save Elephant Foundation.

“He was so patient, cooperating well with new intrusions into his personal space. … His new home is quite large, and no doubt daunting to the boy. He will live in a quarantined area for awhile, before venturing out into the larger Park area and the river,” it wrote.

Largest Asian travel company drops controversial Bangkok zoo

 Gluay Hom had lived at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, a place we’ve been writing about for over four years.

Natasha Daly writes in National Geographic that the elephant park’s Sangduen “Lek” Chailert paid Gluay Hom’s owner and undisclosed sum. While conservationists worry that paying market value simple enables the purchase of another elephant, Lek said she paid much less than his market value of about US$80,000. More than 70,000 people had signed a petition calling for his release.

The foundation said that groups including The Greater Good, Abraham Foundation and Trunk Up New York donated to help rescue the approximately 10-year-old bull who had been born at the zoo located in southeast metro Bangkok. Monday is World Elephant Day.

On Tuesday, elephant farm operators held a news conference to threaten legal action against “foreign media” affecting their business.

They said images of abused and wounded elephants shown in the media “resulted in negative effects and widespread criticism,” according to state media. They said foreign media were trying to “sabotage” Thai tourism and misunderstood practices at Thailand’s elephant farms.

Related stories:

Stupid animals get what’s coming to them at Bangkok zoo (Video)
Zoo owner defends ‘bony’ animals, says elephant needs to be skinny to walk tightrope
Thai zoo criticized after photos of shockingly thin animals go viral (Photos)
Madee and Kannika are first two elephants to ‘retire’ at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary (Video)
Durian, guns and rust add color to animal hell

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