Elephant bids goodbye to cruel rides, says hello to peaceful new home
Khai Dam, a 26-year-old Thai elephant, who has been exploited in the tourism industry since he was young, finally got his first taste of freedom.
Thanks to you, Khai Dam recently made his way to Following Giants, an elephant-friendly venue in Thailand that is a safe haven for elephants who were previously exploited in the wildlife tourism industry.
Watch Khai Dam's heart-warming journey to freedom here:
After toiling in the tourism industry for many years, this gentle giant is finally free to walk through the lush forest as if he were in the wild, forage on native plants and mingle with other rescued elephants whenever he chooses.
Already feeling welcome to the herd, Khai Dam has become good friends with the 40-year-old female elephant Jahn, but he often goes up to the mountain by himself to enjoy some peace and quiet as he grazes on the delicious plants that grow there.
Tom Svensson, Ambassador, World Animal Protection (Sweden), who helped transport Khai Dam to his new home said:
“It was an amazing feeling when he (Khai Dam) stepped off the truck and straight into the stream where he started splashing water on himself. The very next day, he wandered quietly and peacefully around the forest – completely free from the constant stress he was exposed to when he had to entertain tourists. It was so clear that he was enjoying his new home."
And although he is free to spend the rest of his days exactly as he pleases, Khai Dam occasionally struggles to overcome painful memories from his past which cause him to make unnatural movements that stem from his time in shows and as a riding elephant. He also has a hard time being friendly with people – except for his mahout, who makes sure Khai Dam has everything he needs.
After speaking to Khai Dam’s former owner about what persuaded him to surrender the elephant, Svensson further said:
“He no longer feels it is fair to let elephants be exploited by the tourism industry. I know that a few days later he handed over another elephant to Following Giants. In doing so, he also gave up the money he could have earned from the elephants entertaining tourists."
In 2019, you helped the Following Giants tourist venue in Thailand to transition from a traditional trekking camp that offers elephant rides to tourists, to a place where elephants can be free to just be elephants and free from suffering.
Thank you for giving Khai Dam the chance to live a life filled with peace and happiness.