Hiya BEES Friends,

We have had a super busy start to the year! January was packed with lots of discussions about moving forward and developing more community programs, rescuing more furry friends, big talks and discussions with the owners of Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee about their futures with us, discussions with owners who are becoming more open to the idea of retiring their elephants to BEES, more talk about paper work for foundation status and we have had at least one or more volunteers here a week since Christmas week!

Mae Kam reaching for some juicy green-vines

Although we have been keeping busy my heart is still heavy from the loss of our beautiful rescue puppy NongWhan, the Oriental Bay Owl and the Barn Owl all in the same 24hours. Rescuing animals isn’t just a job for us, they become part of our little family and we love them deeply and feel great loss when one of them passes away. It only makes us continue to push forward and fight for the animals.

A big WELCOME to our new Friends of BEES:

I wanted to take the time to say WELCOME to all our new followers and say an elephant sized THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your continued support, it means a lot to us!

Together we really are making a difference!


What is BEES trying to achieve and where we are at: 

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee play in the river. Mae Jumpee playfully kicking Mae Kam!
Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee play in the river. Mae Jumpee playfully kicking Mae Kam!

When I first moved to Thailand to start BEES a retirement home for elephants with my fiancé Burm we would never had known that we could have learned so much. In the first 6 months before we retired our first elephant to BEES we spent a lot of time talking with elephant owners, mahouts and trekking camp owners, each conversation was an interesting experience, some didn’t want to listen to our ideas, whilst some gave us 10 minutes before walking away and some were and still are interested in our model of working towards protecting and preserving the future of the elephants.

It shocks me that Elephants being the national symbol of Thailand have been treated so poorly for hundreds of generations! Every day, hundreds of thousands of tourists are unknowingly funding elephant exploitation and abuse all in the name of Tourism.

A very old and tired trekking elephant. NOTE: This is NOT taken at BEES and was taken in a camp in Chiang Mai
A very old and tired trekking elephant. NOTE: This is NOT taken at BEES and was taken in a camp in Chiang Mai

Tourists need to take a step back from the happy,bubbly, ignorance of the travel brain when they arrive in Asia and question what they are doing, would you go to Australia to ride emu’s or kangaroo’s???or go to China to ride Panda’s??? NO… So WHY is it okay to ride elephants?

To put it simply it ISN’T!

If tourists new about the training the elephants went through and the continued fear and daily suffering, I think they would think twice about contributing to the Elephant Tourism. The trouble is A LOT of Tourists don’t know the truth behind the paintings and the clever tricks the elephants are forced to perform. That’s where YOU, my friends come in, it’s all about EDUCATION!

Through our project we wish to be able to provide a sustainable alternative for owners and their elephants, to escape the city life and hardships of working in tourism and to give the elephants retirement where they have the freedom they rightfully deserve.

BEES currently rent elephants to keep them in retirement and out of backbreaking work as vehicles for tourism and illegal logging. This way the owners can continue to feed their families and the elephants can live a nice happy natural life, they no longer have to work and can just BE elephants. WIN- WIN

Yes.. I know what a lot of people are thinking, by renting it does mean that we DON’T OWN the elephants in our care and that the owner has every right to move his elephant when a contract comes to an end or to take their elephant home for traditional ceremonies when he needs too or even sadly the possibility they will one day return back to work.

But it isn’t as black and white as just buying any elephant to give it permanent freedom!!!

Some people may ask why BEES don’t buy or haven’t yet bought elephants???

Well….One reason is because we haven’t yet had the funds too, but the main reason we have learnt is that you have to consider every aspect of a situation and be sure you are NOT making the situation worse by contributing to further elephant mistreatment and abuse for tourism. The exploitation and abuse of Thailand’s elephants needs to END!

A street beggining elephant we found in Chiang Mai last year
A young street beggining elephant we found in Chiang Mai last year.
NOTE: This is not taken at BEES and was taken in a camp in Chiang Mai

What most people don’t know is that a large percentage of elephant owners selling their elephant are interested in getting funds to buy a younger, stronger elephant.

Not to say BEES will never purchase elephants because in some cases an owner that wishes to sell doesn’t always wish to use the funds for another elephant and will use the funds to buy land for farming or learn a new skill.

We believe that in the case an owner is selling his elephant with the intention of buying another elephant, it means the funds are being used directly by the owner to rip another baby elephant from its mother at a very young age and put it through the cruel and soul breaking practice ‘the phajaan’. The Phajaan is a terrifying practice where they tether the babies by all four legs, beating them for days, sometimes weeks until they submit themselves. When the poor, innocent babies soul is broken, it will then spend the rest of its life imprisoned working as a vehicle for tourism.To avoid this from continuing further it is important to rent in these situations so that the elephant can live a natural life and the owner can continue to feed his family but can’t afford to buy another elephant.

Taken at BEES where elephants can live and BE elephants!

BEES work on EDUCATING mahouts, elephant owners, trekking camp managers and unaware tourists that there is another way! Elephants no longer have to go through the agonizing pain, fear and discomfort they endure on a daily basis having to work long hard days, to keep tourists happy and so that owners of elephants, trekking camp managers and mahouts can make a wage.

BEES model is one of many that are working towards giving the elephants freedom. I think all of you would agree that the best way to see elephants is when they are living in a natural environment, free from work and abuse, just being what they should always be able to BE, ELEPHANTS.

Ever since starting BEES we have wanted to give the elephants the very best we possibly can, true freedom. We are working towards securing land and fencing so that the elephants can live Chain-Free in a natural environment, where they will be protected, can roam freely and no longer have to go through the stress of being chained each night to protect them. This is a very expensive task, one that we cannot achieve on our own, but with your help we CAN achieve anything!

Let’s work together to put abuse and exploitation in the past and make Elephant Friendly Eco-Tourism (seeing elephants just being elephants) the future.

Happy eles grazing at BEES
Happy eles grazing at BEES

What is new at BEES:


Currently in our care we have 12 rescued dogs, 10 rescued cats, 4 rescued tortoises and Terrapins! BEESwork together with the community but also work to better the futures of local domestic animals and wildlife. By rescuing re-habilitating and releasing wildlife where possible and providing a home to those that can’t be released. We give a home to all animals in need!

In the near future we wish to secure land, fence it to build a large dog/cat rescue center and Animal clinic, have veterinary staff and be able to treat, spay and neuter on site. 

Bear: the puppy who was rescued on the 6th of January is settling in well. He was full of ticks when we got him and is still picking up ticks and getting regular tick baths. He loves to play and has the cutest little growl when he is trying to act like a bossy boots with the other dogs.

Toto: At the start of the month rescue dog Toto got into a big fight with a local village man’s dogs during the night, he ran to bark at the local villager who should not have been walking through the land with his dogs at that time of evening. One of the dogs was very aggressive and attacked poor Toto for standing his ground and we are now treating our little man for a very deep wound in his left hind leg. He will be on antibiotics for at least another week and we have been flushing the wound daily.

Some of our many rescues
Some of our many rescues!

Newest Rescue Puppy Robin: Nick named Robin-Claire after the two volunteers that help assist in her rescue. Robin is still settling in which is to be expected as she has only been here a few days. She is very shy and nervous around the other dogs and it took her several hours to eat proper food when she first arrived. Poor Robin has had to fend for herself for weeks since her Mother and siblings had been poisoned by neighbors of the Maechaemschool. Students that attend the school were very worried about this little pup and contacted us to let us know of her existence as they were very worried she was going to die. Sweet little Robin now has a loving home where she will be well cared for.

Son: is the oldest and toughest Male dog, he is the leader of the pack and although very handsome, with a sweet face when it comes to medicating he is quiet aggressive and very difficult to treat when he becomes injured. On Wednesday Son went off wondering in the morning and came back with a serious wound on his front paw, he has partly de-gloved his front left foot. We have spoken to the vet and he has given us advice on how to best care for Son in this situation. He is on a course of heavy duty antibiotics in which are being sneakily passed to him in naughty treats such as sausage, a bit of pancake or fish cubes. We hope our Big beautiful protector will be well again soon.

Rescue pup Pai Lin acting a
Rescue pup Pai Lin acting as a Mummy figure for baby bear!

All the other rescued doggies are doing well, Pai Lin, Panda, Kip and Toby all had flea and tick bathes on Tuesday as well as Robin and Bear because the Ticks are ridiculous at the moment, you pull one off and find ten more!

Kitty Rescues: 

Kittens Justine and Tracey that were dumped in the neighboring land at the beginning of January are wonderful. They are the sweetest cuddliest little kittens and purr ever so loudly. I can’t help but wonder what their sibling would have been like if she hadn’t sadly been killed by the neighbors dogs because their previous owners dumped them in the wrong place. They love to chase each other around all day and have become great friends with Lucky and Milo two of our adult rescued cats.

All the other cats are doing well, Lucky and Milo always find a way to break into our hut (the managers hut) so they can snuggle up with us under the warm covers. Dani, Suki and Cocoa are little explorers and came back home whenever they want a good meal of cat biscuits or fish and rice. Gizmo and Tigger the rescue kitties are getting bigger and bigger, I think they are almost fully grown! MeeSuuk who was rescued back in November 2012 has also been sneaking into volunteer huts to snuggle with guests on these cold winter evenings.

The little dinosaurs:

Hahn’s, Bubbles, Ronald and Shelly are all doing well. Bubbles the Terrapin has stopped using his pool at the moment, we suspect it is too cold! Hahn’s and Ronald the Mountain Tortoises snuggle up together under the warm dry rice grass we have provided for them while little Shelly hangs out in her corner on her own.

Emily heading to Australia this Month:

A very handsome rescue kitty lucky in the garden at BEES
A very handsome rescue kitty lucky in the garden at BEES!

This month I will be returning to Australia for a very quick visit, of course to see my family but to get together with some wonderful supporters to discuss and hopefully finally set-up Charity/Foundation status. I do apologize that it has taken so long to get this set-up. It is very very difficult to set it up from here and there is a lot of paper work to get through in order to be able to operate as an Australian Foundation. It is so difficult for us too not be able to receive much needed funds to be able to support our many rescued animals, the elephants and providing preventative medicines for them. While I am in Australia if you wish to help us in any way with fundraising or make a donation monetary or other that is only small that could easily be carried in luggage back to Thailand, please don’t hesitate to contact me through the BEES contact email! I will be in Sydney from the 11th – 23rd February. Donations of dog treats, dogs toys, old towels and blankets, animal medical resources (bandages, steristrips, Elastoplast etc), 100% pure Coconut Oil (for the elephants), Lanolin (Pure wool fat, for the elephants), SudoCreme(For the elephants) is all greatly appreciated. If your Australian based in NSW and wish to join our Australian Fundraising committee or join as a BEES Friend please contact us! It has been fourteen months since I left the sanctuary for more than 3 days. I leaving my team here with lots of responsibility here but I know they are all fine as they are as hardworking and passionate about the welfare of the animals as I am.

As I am finalizing everything before I head off to Australia and whilst I am in Australia it may be very difficult to respond to your emails and enquiries. Please bear with me and will write back to you as soon as I can and I do sincerely apologize for any delays in advance.

Fundraiser: BEES Vehicle Fundraiser By Karyn Steele

Currently an amazing supporter Karyn Steele is dedicating her time to raising funds for BEES much needed new vehicle. We have been in desperate need for a new vehicle for over a year now and we fear that our current 19 year old Toyota Hilux is at the end of its life. Since starting BEES we have had to change the truck battery several times, it has broken down in emergency situations where we are in desperate need to get animals to the vet and has cost us a fortune in mechanic bills to get it fixed which could be funds for the elephants and animal rescues.

Can you help us raise the funds needed to buy a new vehicle to continue our important work here in rural Thailand??

Your donations are gratefully appreciated through PayPal by entering [email protected]

or through

Go Fund Me: BEES Vehicle Fundraiser By Karyn Steele



Australian Film crew visits BEES:

A very smiley Mae Jumpee at BEES
A very smiley Mae Jumpee at BEES

On friday 7 th February we had an Australian film crew come out to film us and have been here for the last 3 days, Burm and I had an interview and the elephants got to be filmed just being elephants! All very exciting stuff that will be released later on in the year but for now it’s top secret!

That’s all from me for now BEES Friends! Thank you for joining us and for taking the time to read this!

I shall do my best to BLOG again around the end of the month!

Best wishes and lots of elelove,

Emily xx

All Photos © BEES Elephant Sanctuary