The elephants in LAOS also need us, our voice, our love and our support.

Sponsorships and/or donations help them to get out of their hard everyday life as a working elephant and to finally be allowed to live a life as an elephant. Yes, working elephants in the timber industry is still legal here in Laos and most of the elephants work in this area. – NO elephant does this voluntarily 😥 our sponsored elephants tell you what they went through 😭 about their trauma, e.g. also from forced breeding.
The Elephant Sanctuary Laos was founded in 2019 by Lek Chailert, who has been running the
Save Elephant Foundation
for the past 25 years. This new sanctuary is nestled in a beautiful valley on a river that flows into the Mekong, in the Sayabouri province of Laos.

Our sponsorship elephants from the SEF Laos


Thai Koon - Freedom

Sabai Dii ❤️ dear elephant friends,

Hello lovelies, my name is now THAI KOON, which means something like freedom and do you know why?

From the beginning: I’m 60 plus, nobody knows exactly, I can’t remember much and I’ve repressed a lot of things. I was born in Laos, lived with my 1st owner for 40 years and was then sold on. Like almost everyone here, my mother had to work in the timber industry and of course I had to join her as soon as I could walk and had some strength. And as soon as I was strong enough, the dragging began, uphill, downhill and that every day, by midday every bone was aching, there were no breaks to catch my breath… here too, TIME is MONEY!!!!
If you rest, you get beaten, so you give in. When I became weaker, I had to work as a riding elephant in Luang Prapang. It’s not any easier, I can tell you…. this heavy chair and usually a whole family sits on it…… back pain every day.

And the worst part was taking part in festivals and tourist shows. We had to perform tricks there. That was sooo terrible. WE are elephants and not artists. We want to live OUR LIVES, live in our herd with our children and friends. And not make little men and paint and all that sort of thing. Terrible, we’re not footballers either, we want to go into our jungle, bathe in the river alone and not with tourists who then pour water on us from buckets, what a load of rubbish, then they brush us off too!!! We can wash ourselves!!!

I had to take part in the festival again in 2024 …… what a horror. BUT this time there was a change in the air. Somehow I wasn’t good enough for my owner or he didn’t like me anymore and then there was Lek. And just imagine, on 18.02. 2024 and I was allowed to go to the SEF Laos Sanctuary. Guys, that was so great.

But I still had such a long walk of 4 hours ahead of me. And I didn’t know where I was going at all. Another owner? What terrible things are in store for me now? What do I have to do there? I don’t like it and I can’t do it any more… My bones were sooo tired. You know when you can hardly walk because you’re so scared? That’s how I felt. I was paralyzed. Every step was a struggle, I needed many breaks until we finally arrived.
BUT HERE at SEF LAOS it is totally different – this place has a completely different spirit full of freedom, love, contentment, care and harmony. I’m not alone either, I see other elephants and many other animals that live here. I smell jungle, water and many things that were new to me. I only feel love here, even from people. I could hardly believe it and it took me a few days to realize that I had really arrived in paradise. Now I can just be an elephant.

Take a look at my photos, you can see how happy I am. Perhaps I too will find a godfather?


Bua Baan - blossoming lotus

Sabai Dii ❤️ dear elephant friends,

Yippie, you can’t imagine it, but I BUA BAAN am now in paradise. Where? At the Elephant Sanctuary of the Save Elephant Foundation in Laos. Because I was saved.

My life was not easy. As you know, we still have to work in the timber industry here in Laos. That means hauling huge trees day in, day out, and of course we have to have children at the same time, who are then taken away from us.

I also had to pull these huge, heavy tree trunks through the jungle. Often I couldn’t take any more, then there were beatings. So it’s better to move on before you get hit again. But all of a sudden I suffered a huge pain, it was like a tear and I got severe abdominal pain – it was a hernia😥. You can see it in the photos.

I am also blind in one eye, a stone from the slingshot hit my right eye and I went blind. Why do people do this? I can tell you if we are working too slowly. For us in the timber industry, there is no such thing as too heavy or too slow.

I was also pregnant twice. One of our pregnancies lasted 22 months. Oh, how I loved my little one that was growing inside me. But it wasn’t meant to be, I was at work and my child was born prematurely. It only lived for half a day. My grief was endless. 4 years later, I was pregnant again and gave birth to a son. But I had to take him to a training camp for the annual festival that takes place here. And when he was 6 years old, he died suddenly during training. Probably the herpes virus. A world collapsed for me and I fell into deep depression. I just didn’t want to ….. anymore – my head, my heart, my soul – everything was just in pain. And that’s why I was constantly ill and very weak. Then, of course, I was worthless to my owner and he asked the sanctuary if they would buy me. Thanks to Australian elephant lovers, I was bought free on 07.12.2023 🙏🙏🙏🙏.

I had to walk 25 km, I was driven in a truck for 13 hours, then suddenly I was somewhere completely different. It smelled different there….. I could feel the love of the people there. Many animals live there, they are not shouted at at all and live without a chain, imagine that. On my first night there, I cried with joy. And there is also a river there and I can swim there whenever I want. And for the first time in my life I eat bananas, papaya, corn, cucumber …. I didn’t even know how delicious it is. Guys, you can’t imagine how beautiful my paradise is. And all the people here are so nice to me.

Do you want to be my sponsor? That would make me so happy…… because I don’t have anyone.

The first two elephants rescued were Phoon Me and Boon Hom, two very close elephant friends who were forced to work in a trekking camp until 2018. Thong Khoon came to the
Elephant Sanctuary Laos


Phoon Me & Boon Hom

Sabai Dii ❤️ dear elephant friends,

Like so many of my friends, I, PHOON ME had to work in the timber industry already at the age of 9, i.e. hauling trees. Afterwards I was supposed to work in an elephant camp in Vang Vien as a riding elephant. On the one hand I was a bit lucky, because not many tourists were interested in elephant riding. On the other hand, bad luck, because I was brought back after 8 months and had to haul logs there for another 2 to 3 years. After that I was assigned to a resort in Luang Prabang again. There I had to carry tourists around 3-4 times a day. And every night I had really bad low back pain. Have you taken a look at the seat frame? That heavy metal frame – do you know what that weighs? At least 50kg and then add 3-5 people. I dreaded every working day :-((
And one evening I just wanted to allow myself a little freedom and escaped to the neighbor’s property. But it also smelled so deliciously of food and indeed there was plenty to eat there. It was so delicious – it was so nice, I was so happy. BUT THEN the neighbor had noticed me and he also came running totally pissed off and angry. AND he had the hook with him. AND THEN there was a real thrashing, again and again on the same place on my knee/leg. I screamed and cried, the pain was unbearable and still he drilled the hook into the wound again. I almost went insane from the pain. …….. Finally he stopped and brought me back. I was in such pain, but no doctor came and there was no treatment. However, I could no longer work either and was sent back to my home village.
Of course, there was no doctor there either and it took 3 years for the wound to finally heal. Despite the years of suffering and pain, I was ultimately lucky in my misfortune. I was rescued by dear Lek and came to the Elephant Sanctuary in Laos. And there I was finally allowed to just be an elephant and there are people who love us ANIMALS.

Who would like to be my godfather and spoil me a little?

Also with me BOON HOM there is little else to tell than with my many girlfriends here in Laos. I was also trained hard to work in the timber industry. It really wasn’t my dream of life as an elephant. But also my will was broken and then you just function to get as few blows as possible. Besides pulling logs, I also had to work as a riding elephant at a trekking camp near Luang Prapang.
I also had 2 children born. I was not allowed to choose my father, I was raped twice. And that’s not all – they took both children away from me when they were babies. They were sold to zoos in Japan and in Korea. My heart still bleeds today. This is the lot of many mothers and we wonder how can people do this to us?
I was helped by the so dear Phoon Me. When I met her at camp, my life became more bearable. A wonderful, quite intimate friendship began. Then Phoon Me was rescued and before Lek had the funds together for me, I was sold at a higher price to a camp very close to Elephant Sanctuary Laos. I was totally shocked – Phoon Me too. We wanted to stay TOGETHER!!!
BUT fate helped us. How? You will not believe it? In the end, a bad snake bite helped. I became seriously ill, the camp had not yet paid me and the new owner was reluctant to pay. He was afraid of losing his money. Lek heard about it and she immediately sent her vet. They feared I might die and wanted me gone. But Lek did not believe that and immediately saved me.
On July 30, 2019, I came to Sanctuary, where my dear friend Phoon Me was already waiting for me, and a whole new life in freedom and with lots of love started now for me too.



Sabai Dii ❤️ dear elephant friends,

it is not easy for me to talk about everything, but I had promised and maybe . . . . . 🙏
I, THONG KOON , had already had 2 forced inseminations, actually violations of the breeding program, behind me when I was barely 24 years old. — I had my 1st baby when I was a very young elephant – it was a boy and despite everything I was so happy and full of happiness as a mother. But very soon they took my boy away from me. I knew what was in store for him, my little one had to go to the so-called Phajaan – to the so-called training. My pain is infinite, I feel – like every mother, that my boy is doing very, very badly. I can still hear his desperate screams and cries. I know that training camp is hell. After that, my boy is sold to a Japanese man and flown to Japan. I can hardly express my pain.

THONG KOON starts making strange noises. It is her soul that is crying – she is crying for her stolen baby. Deep depressions envelop the desperate mother. 3 years later she is pregnant again, but this time she could neither push nor give birth. Whether there were complications or whether THONG KOON was too scared to hand her baby over to a cruel world of captivity or to save her little one from future suffering, only she knows.
In such a difficult situation there was no help, love, comfort for the poor mother who was suffering so much, neither from other elephants nor from humans. Alone, tied under a tree in the jungle by her owner, she is left to her fate. After about 2 weeks – it’s unbelievable what THONG KOON must have gone through, the baby slipped out on its own… DEAD. The 2nd big scar on her soul. Her bottom was very swollen after the stillbirth, but there is no veterinary care in these remote regions of Laos either. This means the animals must continue their hard work in the timber industry whether they are injured or sick or not. Her uterus was very inflamed and she suffered from daily introitus pain.
In 2019 THONG KOON was rescued and brought to the Sanctuary. You a broken soul – scared and nervous and very suspicious. They can hardly believe that another happy life is about to begin for them too. She joined the small flock of PHOON ME and BOON HOM . She felt safe and happy there. And she learned step by step that there are also honest people with a heart full of love and understanding – also for her. She too opens her heart and learns that there are people she can trust – people who love her.
When – 12/2019 – KHAMMONE, SUK DEE and KHAM SUAN – arrived at the Sanctuary, THONG KOON’s soul found a little more healing again. The other noises and smells of the new arrivals made her very curious. She soon left her flock to look and greeted the new ones with joy. She felt so comfortable that she spent the whole afternoon with them and of course the adorable SUK DEE conquered her mother’s heart. KHAMMONE and KHAM SUAN felt the sincere feelings towards the little one and accepted her as a nanny. These delicate bonds of love, the task of caring for a baby, giving care and love, receiving love from the little one, are balm for her soul and contribute to her healing. A loving affection also develops between THONG KOON and KHAM SUAN . Nobody knows what KHAM SUAN had to go through, except maybe THONG KOON . Elephants talk a lot and are extremely empathetic, helping and comforting one another.
Unfortunately this luck should not last – the owner of KHAMMONE, KHAM SUAN and SUK DEE takes the 3 back . 🙏❤️🐘🐘❤️ Again THONG KOON loses her little family – she cries and mourns, does not like to eat and nothing. Everyone cares for her touchingly, but this loss cannot heal so quickly. — (The photos are still from happy times)

Would you like to spoil us a little with an EXTRA fruit buffet? Or a truck full of melons or bananas?

Baby elephant ❤️SUK DEE ❤️ must return --- future unknown KHAMMONE --- must participate in the breeding program again KHAM SUAN --- Future unknown

Sabai Dii ❤️ you dear elephant friends

😭the owner of the three of us KHAM SUAN, my mommy and me came and picked us up again. I am very afraid and do not know where it will go and what will happen to me.😥😭😥

Suk Dee - happy and free

June 13, 2022 – fateful day
SUK DEE and her family were picked up

Kham Mone with Suk Dee and Kham Suan