About Us - Burm & Emily

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About Us And How It All Began:

The Sanctuary was founded by Burm Pornchai Rinkaew and Emily Rose McWilliam in 2011.

Emily traveled to Thailand as a teen in early 2009 where she experienced firsthand the appalling living conditions and hardships elephants experienced working in tourist camps. She was saddened by how many elderly elephants there were, and seeing elephants forced to perform and take tourists on treks. Many places she visited she could see stereotyping elephants, deprived of their freedom and stripped of their natural instincts, standing in their own defecation waiting around to cater for tourists. Emily made a promise to the elephants – she would personally do something about their plight.

During 2010 discussions of having an elephant rescue and retirement project began to become reality and at just 18 years of age Emily relocated to Mae Chaem where she co-founded BEES with her partner Burm, a native Thai, local to the area. Emily had completed her Certificate II and III in Captive Animal Management (3 years training, with Taronga Training Institute) in Sydney, Australia.

Burm studied Tourism at Rajabhat University and got his degree in 2007. He worked and studied at the same time during his university years as a Hotel Receptionist, a Waiter and Tour guide. He has many years of experience with Tourist communications and speaks fluent English. Burm is passionate about developing the surrounding community, he has travelled to Australia and believes that it has opened up many opportunities for him. Learning the English language and seeing the developing outside world is a lot different to the village he grew up in and the life he had as a boy. He would love to share his knowledge and teach the kids English to give all the young minds of today a better tomorrow. His knowledge, experience and great sense of humor brings positive energy to the project. Burm grew up in Maechaem, an area that once had many captive elephants working as loggers in the forests, before moving onto Tourism.

Burm and Emily purchased their first piece of land in January of 2011 which links onto Burm’s Parents land, the village is home to many of Burm’s relatives. All accommodations have been constructed by Burm, his father and local village men. Building of the sanctuary has been a true community effort.

Since Burm and Emily started BEES they have been working to preserve and protect the local forest area and with the help of visitors to BEES and local village kids, BEES have planted approximately 10,000 trees since 2012.

Elephant Sanctuary and Small Animal Rescue:  

Allowing elephants to BE elephants away from exploitation and abuse

BEES – Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary is a safe, natural home for elephants to just BE elephants. A place for elephants to be rescued and retire too OR at times we open our doors to elephants that need rest/care with the hopes of being able to permanently live out their days in at the sanctuary in a natural environment free from exploitation and abuse.

Allowing elephants the ability to BE elephants, to naturally forage, dust bath, roam, explore and socialize. BEES is a place where humans now work FOR them.

BEES also provides a home to many rescued cats and dogs and provides Domestic Animal Outreach within the local community, we run sterilization programs and provide care to local animals in need.

We work within the community running clean up days, education for kids days, teach English once a week in the local school, have a community Christmas every year and give gifts to the village and often send volunteers to help with irrigation, fire walling and clean ups after natural disasters in the local area.

Our Sanctuary provides 5 locals with full-time employment and many local villagers part-time employment in construction, electrical maintenance etc We support local businesses such as  massage, snack shops, local handy crafts village, restaurants etc as well as buying fruit and vegetables from the local farmers to feed the elephants, often at times buying local farmers watermelons or pumpkins they arent able to sell – providing them with an extra income.

Seasonally we also grow some of our own crops on the sanctuary such as Thai Guava, Banana, Papaya, Basil, Morning Glory, basil and chilli to name a few.

We run a visitor program for travelers to see and experience elephants in a natural and safe environment free from exploitation and abuse. By joining us you’re directly helping these elephants to live a happy more natural life. This is a responsible and ethical program focused on giving back to the elephants after they have spent their lives working for humans. BEES are a place where humans now work for them.