Rung Thip is a 55 year old elephant that has worked in the Thai elephant tourist trade for the last 25 years and did so in the last 3 years with severe arthritis, both of her front legs have been in constant pain. Because of this, she is very slow in each and every movement and would rather spend hours rubbing her skin on a big tree than going an the daily walk, leaving the volunteers to the contemplation of her funny scratching routine.
For several weeks the WFFT staff have been negotiating with her owners to have her retire to our elephant refuge and with help from our generous sponsors in Sydney, Australia we were yesterday able to rescue Rung Thip and let her retire for life! WFFT staff and many volunteers travelled to Pattaya city in Thailand to join Rung Thip on her last truck-trip, on her way to a life of relaxing, eating, sleeping and living with other fortunate elephants at the WFFT centre. The trip from the elephant tourist camp to WFFT took 6 hours and Rung Thip was quiet and docile during the ride, as if she knew life was going to change for the better!
After arrival, Rung Thip was taken to the night enclosure where lots of fruits, grass and vegetables were waiting for her. She relaxed after a few hours eating and in the morning was greeted by all the volunteers at the centre.
Later in the day her chain was removed and she was shown around her new home, the first day of retirement!
Update (May 2015):
Boon Mee meets Rung Thip - The newly rescued Rung Thip got our Boon Mee very curious. As we traditionally introduce the new girl on her second day to another of our rescued old ladies, Rung Thip got to spend a bit of time with Boon Mee, who - for once - showed a real interest for her visitor, following her around the enclosure, visibly very inquisitive.
We hope in the future to continue introductions for Boon Mee and Rung Thip to become good friends, we are waiting for Rung Thip to gain confidence in her new life of freedom.
There is now hope for Boon Mee, usually solitary, to make friends.
Update (July 2016):
We have noticed that Rung Thip is a huge lover of human children and really enjoys their company if walking with our day visitors.
Update (June 2017):
Rhung Thip is turning into quite the sassy old lady as she settles fully into retirement. She is now living in one of our most densely forested enclosures with plenty of privacy. Though usually cranky with most people and most elephants, she is particularly fond of one of WFFT’s younger elephants Wassana. These two now live together in their large forested enclosure.
Rhung Thip’s arthritis in her front legs continues to restrict her movements, causing her to walk very slowly. However, she spends her time slowly exploring her forest, creating new paths through the trees and finding enrichments hidden in the treetops by WFFT’s volunteers.
Currently sponsored by:
1. Diana James, VIC ($100)
2. Hazel Oleszek, VIC ($100)
3. Ruth Farre, NSW ($100)
4. The Dog Shop, WA ($100)
5. Kim Ribbink, WA ($100)
6. Liam McMahon, NZ ($100)