Watch This Rescued Baby Elephant Discover a Surprising New Toy
A baby elephant put on quite a show for visitors at a rescue facility in Chiang Mai, Thailand, recently, but she has more to celebrate than playtime.
The five-year-old pachyderm, named Faa Mai, was filmed swinging and twirling a blue ribbon.
“You can almost hear giggles emanating from the gigantic grin on her face, safe and without a care in the world,” wrote The Huffington Post.
Faa Mai (meaning “a new day”) has never worked—she was the first calf born in Elephant Nature Park in 2009—but her mother, Mae Bua Tong, used to give tourists rides.
Save Elephant Foundation, the nonprofit that operates ENP, rescued Mae Bua Tong and Faa Mai’s big sister in 2005.
The mother trekked up and down a mountain for two hours as many as eight times a day carrying tourists. After giving birth to Faa Mai’s sister, Mae Bua Tong was only given a few days of rest alone in the jungle, according to the foundation. She went back to work soon after, her baby trailing behind. The newborn would’ve become another trekking elephant if the foundation hadn’t rescued them.
The two now live in the park with Faa Mai and an adopted female elephant.
In Thailand, tourism businesses and loggers buy the animals, and young ones are sold for more than $30,000 each. The government promised to crack down on the lucrative trade in 2012, but elephant rides continue to be popular among visitors.
“Tourists want to see the elephants painting and doing lots of things, especially riding,” Sangduen Chailert, SEF’s founder, told Time. “Tourism work is actually the most disturbing to the elephant…. When logging, they only work for part of the year.”
Thanks to rescue organizations such as SEF, some elephants don’t suffer that fate.
“Faa Mai will never suffer cruel torture training,” according to the foundation’s website. “She will never work a day in her life.”