Katherine Connor founded BLES in June 2005. After a successful career in retail management, Katherine left England in 2002 for a nine-month adventure in Asia.
Just six weeks after her arrival in Thailand, Katherine unexpectedly found herself volunteering in an elephant conservation centre and hospital. While establishing
her formative relationship with the baby elephant, Boon Lott, she realized her life’s passion and committed herself to the rescue, recovery, and retirement of abused
Asian elephants.

With fierce resolution, Katherine single-handedly raised the initial funds to purchase land and establish BLES as a nonprofit organization with charity status. Her unwavering efforts were internationally recognized, and she was formally

invited to The House of Lords in London to receive an award from IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) for her dedication and commitment to animal welfare.

Katherine has often said she will not turn her back on any abused animals. This creed is evident — in addition to elephants, BLES is home to a variety of rescued animals, including eight dogs, five cats, a tortoise and two cows.


  • Katherine and family shown with the Commitment to Animal Welfare Award given by IFAW at The House of Lords. Photograph: Mike Fresco
  • Five weeks between their birthdays, Hope and Star meet for the very first time.   Photograph: Peggy Dyer
  • Katherine’s vision — no tricks, no shows — simply walking with the elephants.
  • Katherine’s passion for animal welfare is not just restricted to elephants.
  • Grateful for a second chance at life, the animals shower Katherine with affection.
  •  Katherine and her father jumped 10 000 feet from an airplane to raise funds for BLES.
  • Patience and understanding help solidify intimate relationships with each of the elephants.   Photography: Peggy Dyer
  • Katherine with Star, the first calf to be successfully born at BLES.   Photograph: Peggy Dyer
  • Katherine collecting fresh grasses for the elephants.  Photograph: Peggy Dyer
  • Sharing time with three of the rescued dogs homed at BLES.