Like many of our eles, E-wong’s beginnings (as well as her name, none of our mahouts have any idea what it means or what tradition it came from) are a bit of a mystery to us.
We do know that she has a very rough and calloused trunk and splayed feet, both indicators that she has spent many hard years working in logging camps. She is also blind in one eye, perhaps from malnutrition at an early age. Now in her mid fifties, E-wong much prefers her quiet life in the Golden Triangle.
A 36 year old Surin Elephant from the elephant owning communities of North Eastern Thailand, Bo is our only elephant to have a French name (She was named for an actress that was named after Bo Derrick). In her early years, Bo walked around Thailand, covering the deep south to the north of the Golden Triangle all on foot. Walking the highways, grabbing grass from the roadside, accepting offerings from villagers and sleeping in temple grounds. Due to her gentle nature, she often picked up work in local parades and ceremonies. But this sort of life is only ever enough to ‘get by’ on and Bo is far happier here, where her doting mahouts, Uncle & Nephew team Noi & Berm, and guests can spoil her. Bo is a favourite amongst guests, known for her big personality and inclination to snack nearly constantly, she easily makes her way into everyone’s hearts.
BoonSri is a Karen (the traditional elephant carers of the Burmese/Thai Mountains) elephant from the forests of Chiang Mai. Now 45, in her time BoonSri has spent time in illegal Burmese logging camps, some trekking in tourist camps around Chiang Mai and sometimes when un-employed, being a village elephant, doing odd jobs. BoonSri is our slow and steady elephant who can normally be found at the very back of our line of elephants whenever we walk anywhere. She loves nothing more during bath time than to roll onto her side under the water and to stay there for minutes at a time, leading people to believe she has fallen asleep down there.
PoonLarp is the 28 year old mother of Lynchee. We found mother and daughter on the streets of central Thailand after Poonlarp was deemed not profitable and was kicked out of a trekking camp after giving birth. Walking the street is stressful for any elephant, but for a new mother with a young calf it must have been much tougher. When PoonLarp came to us she showed classic signs of abuse and stress, including a head bobbing behaviour typical of highly stressed and anxious elephants in captivity. PoonLarp was reluctant to interact with people or other elephants and we felt for sure that even if she calmed down and recovered from her past, she would never be an elephant that could interact with guests. Much to our surprise though, PoonLarp has not only recovered but gone on to become one of our happiest elephants who loves to interact with people especially when they have food. Her calf Lynchee still lives with us too.
Lynchee, daughter of Poonlarp was so young when she came to us that she didn’t have a name yet. Many suggestions were made, but it was Lychee season in the orchard at the time and the name stuck (lynchee is Thai for lychee). Lynchee was raised here by our head mahout Lord and trained using his unique singing and tickling technique. Now 8 years old, Lynchee enjoys the company of the other young elephants especially Pleum.
BuaThong (meaning Golden Lotus) was born in Surin in 1983. BuaThong spent her young life as many elephants did in those days, walking from town to town, selling sugarcane and bananas to people to feed back to her. She roamed with her mahout between Pattaya, Chon Buri and Ayutthaya. When BuaThong was 10 years old, she was sent to the Phillapines to be part of an elephant show. BuaThong and and her mahout lasted only two years before deciding they would rather return home to a life of street begging. On their return to Thailand, BuaThong and her mahout spent the next few years doing various jobs including tracing their old path street begging as well as spending some time working in a trekking camp in Ayutthaya. BuaThong now spends her days with her best friend ThangMo and daughter Am. BuaThong is by far our most vocal elephant and can often be heard trumpeting, chirping and growling while partaking in her favorite part of the day, bath time.
ThangMo, meaning watermelon in Thai, came to us as a very short round baby elephant who looked just like a watermelon on stumps. Starting her life as a street begging elephant, ThangMo and her mahout Poj were arrested multiple times before she was even two years old. Eventually realising that was not the life for an elephant, ThangMo’s mahout bought her up to the Golden Triangle were she can grow up with other elephants and charm everybody with her amazing personality. At just 8 years old, ThangMo has a way with children and is always on hand to help out with our younger guests.

Pepsi’s mahout Karn bought Pepsi as a two year old from Prachuab Khiri Khan Province. They then went out onto the street begging for four years until the life of sleeping rough and running from authorities became too much. Since coming to the Golden Triangle, Pepsi has fitted in well with our elephants and is the subject of not just a couple, but quite a few school yard crushes from our female elephants. Not just a handsome face though, Pepsi has shown remarkable intelligence and is the poster boy for our sister foundation’s research in to elephant intelligence. Being such an all rounder, Pepsi is our only male to work with guests, something our girls don’t mind one bit.

Pepsi is also the only returnee among our elephants whose mahouts have been tempted away by the large cash ‘bonusses’ of the ’10 hour a day’ trekking camps. It is from Pepsi and his mahout that we have knowledge of conditions in those camps.

We’re happy to have him back.


We first met Lamyai, named after the Northern Thai fruit, in the Khao Kiew Detention centre having been arrested by the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre’s Elephant Rescue Team, her crime was begging on the streets of Bangkok. When the officers came across her she was taking part in a drunken elephant show, the mahout was feeding her whisky for the amusement of the gathered crowd. During her time at the detention centre, the vets educated her mahout about the dangers of letting ele’s drink and eventually let them go. Knowing no other way, her mahout took her back onto the streets. When we found her again she was living behind the Rama IX hotel and spending her nights on Soi Nana. Luckily we were able to inform her mahout that money had been found for her rescue to the Golden Triangle and they have been here since. Lamyai is now a healthy 14 year old, who enjoys the company of the other teenage and younger elephants.

Nowadays neither she nor her mahout, Lung Pat, touch whisky.

  Pang Kam Sao (Pleum)
Pleum was our first ever street rescue. We met this baby in the early evening on Soi 7 in the heart of Bangkok, she was with three people (only one of them a mahout) and making them a little money by selling sticks of sugarcane which she then greedily ate. In the next month she and her mahout were arrested four times by the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre’s elephant rescue team and moved out of the city limits – the extent of the team’s powers. When thrown out of Bangkok they went to Pattaya, when thrown out of Pattaya they returned to Bangkok in a never ending cycle. The mahout finally agreed to join us, so now she lives here with us, her mahout and owner Lord is happy to be settled, able to live with his wife and to give Pleum a good home. Pleum is now a big 16 year old girl, nearly fully grown, but still playful at heart and a little cheeky… your typical teenager.
Pumpui spent her early life on the street. Shortly before her mahout Suk bought her in 2005, she had been hit by a car and lost the baby she was carrying. She was very scared of cars and wary of people. Suk and his family worked patiently with Pumpui and helped calm her down over time, but continued to travelling with her and spent two years in Pattaya living on the streets. Since coming to GTAEF, Pumpui has calmed down further, she is still wary of cars and trucks, but now has her friend and constant companion Dah by her side to reassure her.
Nong Dah came to us at four years old. She came directly from the Patpong and Silom area of Bangkok where she had been walking the streets at night selling bananas and posing for photos. It is a tiring life for an elephant and mahout with scant reward. At four years old, Dah had never seen the jungle before, always used to concrete and tarmac, but our fears that she may been scared on arrival were quickly dispelled as, being an elephant, she saw our forest as as a huge buffet and tried to out eat any nerves she may have had. Nong Dah was the first ele to have heard of us through the street ele grape vine and to actually contact us in need of rescue (well the family really, athough a city girl, she hasn’t got the hang of mobiles yet). Having never had a proper childhood, Dah is happy to get involved in the smaller babies’ games, but is always aware of her advanced strength and never abuses it. At 13 now, Dah is still good friends with all of our youngsters, but spends most of her time with Pumpui.
Daughter of BuaThong, Am was born in the camp on the 16th of July 2008. Unlike most of our other youngsters, Am has never had to face the life of street begging or hardship in any way. The pampered baby of the camp, she instead faces a steady stream of devoted fans and guests vying for her attention and the privilege of feeding her some bananas. When not with her fan club, 5 year old Am likes to spend time with her mum and the other young elephants.
  Puang Petch
Puang Petch, meaning handful of diamonds, literally walked into our lives when her owners brought her to the local village. She was living in the back of a 6 wheel truck going from town to town in the North of Thailand selling sugarcane along the streets. Her owners loved her, but could no longer think of any other way to keep her in food and look after themselves as well. When Puang Petch got to the camp she didn’t stop eating for three days straight, unable to believe that our sugarcane supply literally never ends.
Her name meaning to make merit, BounMa is the only elephant we have ever heard of who was taken out onto the streets to beg in order to rescue her. In her early twenties BounMa was owned by a logging company in the North, the problem was though that she was never very good at being a logging elephant and was beaten savagely because of it, to this day bearing the scars of a badly beaten head, pink skin around her neck and a badly broken ear. Luckily for BounMa, a Surin mahout working casually in the camp spotted her and brought her in order to take her out onto the streets to save her from more suffering in the camp. BounMa and her new mahout were in Pattaya when we met her and brought her to the stable life of the camp. BounMa is a quiet, gentle elephant who doesn’t make a fuss about anything, happy to be living out her days in peace.
Our jet setting Elephant, Yuki was sold and shipped to Japan as soon as she was weaned from her mother, so fast in fact that she did not yet have a name. She was named Yuki on arrival, Japanese for snow. Unfortunately Yuki was not able to cope with the cold weather and in Japan and was soon shipped back home. For the next three years Yuki worked in the Bar strip in Pattaya’s tourist area, taking part in a cabaret show every night, until she got too big to perform. Yuki now enjoys her quiet life in the Golden Triangle, although her superior intellect and inquisitive nature sometimes gets her into trouble. She likes to keep her mahout on his toes by eating things she shouldn’t and going wandering to places she shouldn’t, like the neighbours’ banana plantations.

One of our more recent arrivals, BoonJan came to us from a camp in Chiang Mai. Her life was not too bad in the camp and previously they had forest in which the elephants could return to at night to rest and graze naturally. But after the camp was prevented by the local Government from using the forest land, BoonJan’s owner sought out a better situation for her where she could have time in nature and to be an elephant. When BoonJan arrived we realised she was most probably pregnant and our suspicions were confirmed on the 3rd of March 2014, with the birth of her baby boy Denra.

The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) is located at and supported by the Anantara Golden Triangle and Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, these organisations cover all admin. costs and our parent company, Minor International, is our largest single donor ensuring any money you donate goes straight to helping elephants.
  Copyright © 2014 The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. All rights reserved.