In 1988, barely 20 years old I visited Thailand for the first time. As many tourists do, I went on a walking trek that also offered an elephant ride. I rode in the jungle on a seat that was strapped to the back of an elephant.
… The elephant set off, with us perched on top. The mountain trail is steep. The rain of the previous night made the ground muddy and slippery. Our elephant places his feet carefully, gently. The mahout ordered him to go faster, while our elephant slides. I feel his difficulty to move forward and to remain standing. I have the distinct impression that he takes us into account, he wants to protect us. Then he knelt on his front legs, slipping in the mud using all his strength to move forward.
We sit there and watch him struggle for us to have our ride. Bravely he brings us safe and sound to the top.
Knowing nothing before then about the living conditions of captive elephants, this was when I first become aware of it.
25 years later, in 2012, meeting Moey…
It was in May 2012 during a trip to Thailand, in an elephant camp, that I met Moey.
I had no idea that this encounter would change my life. After years of harsh labor, Moey was worn out and as such she was sent back to her owner. She had been refusing to work for some time and displayed aggressive behavior towards her mahout. Clearly ill, malnourished and definitely unable to work, she was ready to end her life in chains.
My fellow travellers and I were deeply moved by her situation.
Moey never left my thoughts and on returning home I was determined to do everything in my power to find a place where she could live a dignified life. Her condition provoked a real surge of determination within me. Messages of encouragement and donations poured in from all over the world, and sufficient funds were collected to save her.
After an exhausting life carrying tourists on her back and performing circus acts, Moey was finally able to move to a park and enjoy a long-awaited freedom.
Tragically, she passed away three months later, the consequence of an exhausting, deprived and stressful life. Moey collapsed one night and was not able to stand up again. The post mortem revealed that she had necrosis of the bowel. I am sad that she could not spend more time in her new life, but having spent several weeks at Moey’s side after her rescue, I can tell you that the sparkle returned to her eyes and she touched the hearts of all who met her.
I am truly grateful to those who believed in making Moey’s final days as calm and as comfortable as possible.
By helping Moey we set her free from a life of slavery. She could savor freedom and end her life in a better place. Moey Association has been created in her memory.
Thank you for your support that allows us to continue our work and to help other elephants in dire situations.
Lena Quénard, Founder of Moey Association.