The death of “Sao Noi,” an elephant who spent her entire life giving rides to tourists, broke the hearts of animal lovers and the staff of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Sukhothai, where she died yesterday.
She was rescued just a month ago and was finally able to stop working.
Sao Noi lived for over 60 years. Her years servicing tourists made her health poor and she kept collapsing.
According to a blog post by the sanctuary’s staff, Sao Noi was very skinny when the team rescued her at the end of May. First, she was weak and emaciated, but her condition started improving. Once again, she was a happy elephant and loved to roam in the forest. She also became good friends with two other elephants, Boon Thong and Permpoon.
On the last day of Sao Noi, Boon Thong stood by her, gently nudging her dear friend who was being nursed with her trunk.
A funeral was held for Sao Noi. A group of monks from a local temple came to bless her. Before she was buried in the forest, fruits such as pineapples, watermelons and bananas were beautifully laid out around her for decoration and as an offering.
It’s bittersweet that Sao Noi passed away at the time when she was finally able to stop working. It’s sweet that she was accompanied by loved ones. But, what is really bitter is that her death is a shocking reminder of the exploitation inflicted by tourism businesses that abuse animals.
Check out Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary’s Facebook page for information about donation.