Sanctuary Elephants

Each of our elephants came to us as shadows of their potential selves. Their accompanying stories describe their rescues and detail their histories, but it is impossible to relate just how traumatized and devastated each elephant was upon arrival.

“I want to rescue an elephant” is an easy declaration to make, but its reality is something few people truly understand. To some extent, the term “rescue” has been glamorized. “Rescue an elephant” embodies a romantic image that doesn’t begin to account for the mercenary factors involved. The rescue of elephants is a dangerous, clandestine, and unpredictable commitment. Negotiating a sale is complicated and delicate. If cash isn’t provided immediately, owners become suspicious and are quick to change terms and demand more money.

Possible rescue candidates are identified through a variety of means — from alerts by good Samaritans to owners contacting BLES directly. When a possible rescue

candidate has been identified, Katherine and Anon approach the often-elusive owners to initiate discussions. This can take months as the owners may equivocate, change payment terms, and in the case of street elephants, frequently go into hiding for fear of governmental reprisal.

Once a price has been agreed upon, Katherine must locate the funds, a constantly demanding undertaking. BLES does not have a storehouse of savings, so each rescue initiates a global outreach through phone calls and e-mails. Timing is crucial, and despite Katherine’s ardent efforts, the funds are not always forthcoming. For every elephant BLES has successfully saved, two have been lost. Sometimes the owners get a better offer. Sometimes the funds just don’t come. Sometimes the elephant dies. It really is that simple. If we don’t have the funds, we can’t save the elephants.


  • Pang Tong (Mrs. Gold in Thai) is the mother of the Sanctuary’s namesake, Boon Lott, and the matriarch of the BLES family. Her life before BLES was filled with abuse and distress. When Katherine and Anon met her owner, he proudly shared his personal story of beating, starving, and working …more

  • Somai is a rare case of an elephant donation and was the first arrival to BLES. One of the few lucky elephants left in Thailand, he was used for sustainable logging and well cared for by his village owners. …more

  • Lom (Umbrella in Thai) is the life and soul of the BLES family. Since her arrival at BLES in July 2006, she has enchanted everyone with her bouncy, bubbly, and boisterous ways. Lom’s early life began on the streets of Chiang Mai, used for begging to the tourist trade. he visages of her struggles from …more

  • Plai Tong Jai (Heart of Gold in Thai) is the tallest member of the BLES family. When Anon overheard a man complaining that his elephant was a useless waste of time, Anon asked to see the elephant for himself. The elephant, in reference, was Plai Tong Jai, an incredibly tall, handsome but …more

  • Mare Boon Mee In her early 80’s, Mare Boon Mee (Mother of good fortune in Thai) is the oldest member of the BLES family. In March 2007, a panicked owner contacted Katherine and Anon to urgently request their help with his dying cow, Boon Mee. Katherine and Anon examined her and found that although she was …more

  • Pang Noi (Miss Little in Thai) is the smallest of our adult females and our most ambitious rescue to date. When three-out-of-five owners of a pregnant logging elephant visited BLES to propose a sale, Katherine and Anon had no idea what a confusing and complicated rescue they were about to conduct. …more

  • Star Star’s birth on September, 18, 2007 was cause for huge celebration. Not only was she the first calf to be born at BLES, she was the first calf to be born in our village of Baan Tuek. A traditional logging community, elephants have played a central role in the lives of the villagers here for centuries. …more

  • Seedor Yai (Mr. Big in Thai) is massive, standing an impressive 2.8 metres and weighing 4 tons. Like most of the elephants in north Thailand, Seedor Yai worked as a logging elephant until his elderly owner retired, retiring his bull with him. When the owner became ill and no longer able to support both his bull and his family, …more

  • Pang Suai In her thirties, Pang Suai (Miss Beautiful) is one the newest member to join the BLES family. Standing true to her name, Pang Suai (beautiful) is a physically stunning elephant. She is large and strong, but sadly these atributes have worked against her. … more

  • Tong Yui & Bong Beng Bles was first made aware of the plight of two street elephants back in June 2008 when Katherine received a heartfelt email from Jan Tunks. Jan wrote of how she had befriended Tong Yui, the elder of the two elephants, while traveling around Thailand in November 2007. …more

  • Mee Chok (Blessed) was just twenty months old when BLES successfully rescued him. Previously known as Pheung Yai (Bumble Bee), this baby elephant had known nothing but the inside of the filthy shack he was chained and shackled in. …more

  • Wassana The rescue of Wassana (Fortune) was full of dramatic twist and turns and emotional ups and downs. BLES founders Katherine and Anon discovered Wassana by pure accident when following up on a call about a baby elephant living in unacceptable conditions. …more

  • Pang Dow Naam Chok (Lucky Star) has endured more abuse than most twenty-something female elephants. Despite being seriously disabled, Pang Dow has been forced to live out every possible nightmare. …more

  • Beautiful Lotus (Bwua Ngam) is another elephant that had fallen victim to cruelty and neglect. Used as a trekking elephant, her days were filled with the burden of ferrying tourists on laborious climbs.more

  • Seedor Gam has spent most of his 30 plus years hauling logs in the notoriously tough logging trade. His home was Baan Tuek, the neighboring village to BLES. In early 2011, Seedor Gam’s owners approached BLESmore

  • Somsri (Gentle Lady) is an elderly 70 year old female who was discovered, dangerously thin and covered with sores and fresh wounds more

  • Boon Thong It took months of planning, hours of driving, negotiation delays with owners and government officials, and plenty of fundraising to bring Boon Thong home to BLES…more

  • Naamfon was rescued by BLES on 24th October 2014. Aged 63 years, she had been working as a trekking elephant, giving rides to tourists for 10 years. Before that, she had worked as a logging elephant.more