BEES Friends,

We are very sorry for the lack of blogs lately it has been a very busy time on the sanctuary and with very limited internet access it can be very difficult to find the time to post, let alone to find the time to write a blog. Where to begin?! It has been a while since we blogged, there is a lot to share!

We have had a very busy time lately with new volunteers, animal rescues, animals passing away, community projects, the abandoned temple cats project, a sick elephant, the arrival of the new truck, sick staff, celebrating our 2 years with Mae Kam, 2 years since BEES retired their very first elephant and the possibility of more elephants coming to join BEES and spend their days enjoying the forest.

Our darling rescued pup Bear passed away suddenly on the 13th May, he was found resting peacefully behind the tortoise house never to be woken again. R.I.P Darling Boy, We miss you each and every day, you’ll always hold a special place in our hearts.

In memory of our beautiful boy Bear we have created the BEARS- Cat and Dog Home and Clinic facebook page so that we can give the animals the best possible care and be able to provide regular checkups, we will never know what took our little boy but we can prevent things like this from happening again if we have the resources. BEARS is named after Bear but also stands for (Burm and Emily’s Animal Rescue and Shelter). We plan to secure land, build a cat and dog shelter and build a small clinic onsite, in the future we have dreams to build an animal hospital in Maechaem which will provide high-scale support to all animals within the local community, we can provide employment for local people, provide immediate medical care as needed, health checks and the big one….. you guessed it, population control through sterilization! With your help these dreams can become reality and we could be providing assistance to animals all over the district of Maechaem.

Happy Dances for Pooh:

A lot of you would have seen our poor old girl Mae Jumpee got extremely ill last month, on Saturday 17th May she started to go off her food, she would not eat, was drinking very small amounts of water and was unable to defecate. The BEES Team worked tirelessly to get our darling old girl well again, performing enema’s and giving natural laxatives, but due to not being able to find the blockage and time slipping away we had to act fast and call in the vets from TECC as Mae Jumpee was growing weaker, we feared she was losing the strength to pull through. It was difficult to reach the vets on the Sunday but luckily they were all back to work on Monday morning and after making the call, the vets made their way to BEES and arrived Monday afternoon. As soon as they arrived they assessed her and performed an enema this time finding soil and finding that it was part of the cause of the blockage, they administered IV fluids, metabolism stimulators, vitamins/minerals and anti-inflammatories and then they advised to wait and see what the morning brings. If nothing we would need to move her to the elephant hospital in Lampang so they could monitor her and continue to give IV Fluids. The vets so kindly stayed with us to monitor her throughout the night and in the morning when we found no pooh, they performed another enema finding more soil, administered more IV fluids and medicines and advised to call for the elephant transfer truck. Burm was incredible with getting everything organized with the local government office to get the transfer papers done and organized for the truck to come to move our darling old girl. All that we could think about was our sweet old girl and just kept hoping we could get her to the hospital safely without her collapsing, when an elephant is exhausted and falls down it can be very difficult to get them back up again. Thankfully, the amazing and fast work of the veterinarians at TECC having administered IV Fluids on and off for 12 hours before, gave her the strength she needed to travel the long journey to Lampang. Our incredible elephant truck driver Mr Wimon got her there in record timing! He is known all over Thailand for his fast response and great care when driving elephants. Our wonderful mahout Aner accompanied Mae Jumpee to the hospital where he stayed by her side until she was ready to come home. We reached the hospital in late afternoon on Tuesday and where met by the vets who immediately swung into action. Administering further IV Fluids, Metabolism stimulators, vitamin and mineral supplements and anti inflammatories. Performing another enema, flushing deep into the rectum with water and finding more soil they just kept monitoring her until the blockage felt like it had moved through enough to be in arms reach. The vets at TECC were amazing, by Wednesday mid-morning Mae Jumpee’s body had been strong enough to move the blockage through the rectum and was within arm’s reach, the TECC vets and mahout staff performed another enema, finally grabbing hold of the start of the blockage which consisted of very dry grass and soil, they worked tirelessly to remove as much as possible to help her to defecate on her own again. After removing approx.. 20kg of grass and soil, she was then able to pass her pooh on her own and successfully did so in the afternoon on the Wednesday! She is such a strong and determined old lady and she took everything with great patience. Mae Jumpee spent 6 days in total at TECC and continued to received post treatment at the hospital to help her gain her strength back, she returned home on Sunday 25th May and has been receiving daily medications to help her body to heal. Mae Kam had missed her so much and their reunion was just beautiful a snipit was shared on youtube

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Mae Kam enjoying just being an elephant!




BEES celebrates 2 years with elephants and 2 years retirement for Mae Kam:

What an incredible journey it has been. There have been good times and bad, tears of joy and great sadness, the animal cruelty can be beyond words and so heartbreaking, we still today face huge struggles due to lack of funding and support, in the beginning we had great troubles with staff coming and going making it very difficult to move forward, friends came and went, now we have wonderful friends and supporters who have come together and are helping us to create something special for more elephants to enjoy, we now have our own beautiful little network of people and are building great relationships with our staff and local community. When we first started BEES the local people had their concerns about freeing the elephants in the local area and thought that it would be very dangerous and were afraid that they would be in danger, because they had images of running into elephants on the loose. It was only until they saw with their own eyes when bringing the elephants to live here and have the ability to be elephants that they began to have understanding of what we were trying to achieve. Each and every day we grow stronger because of the care and support from our local community and of course our global supporters, we are developing more and more projects all the time to involve the local community and help develop the local area, we couldn’t have come so far without the support of our beautiful community. By working together with the community it benefits everyone involved, most importantly the elephants. It’s a Win-Win situation working towards positive change!

In the beginning we also faced many issues with mahouts (elephant carers) they had all been trained with abusive techniques in managing elephants and would not listen to new ideas and modern ways of care. One after the other they either left or we had to ask them to leave because they just didn’t understand the idea of what it meant to treat elephants with love, care and respect and no longer force them to work! They were mostly men that had been trained by their fathers and grandfathers’; carrying out the role they were born into and they had learned no other way. It’s hard to break the mind set of people when it’s all they have ever known.

Where we are at today is not ideal and far from perfect, we continue to learn and improve with every new day, we have managed to find Pong a helper and assistant carer and our main mahout Aner, who has made a huge transformation from the man he was and the man he is now. Beyond the whisky drinking, cranky man, was a man that no one had ever seen, a kind and gentle heart, with a very sad story and a very broken life. Aner came to us when he was lost in his life and had spent most of his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. When he came to BEES he was able to figure out what he wanted in life, after being ripped from his family at the age of 13 and forced into the Burmese military he fled Burma with his friend to create a new life in Thailand, luckily he landed in the hands of a very nice Thai government official who took him in, got him registered as a Non-Thai Immigrant so that he was legally allowed to live here in Thailand and treated him like his son. One day whilst out looking for work he found himself with an elephant, they intrigued him and that’s when he decided he wanted to spend his life working with elephants, he spent his time training with men that knew no other way of life but ‘working’ elephants. Even though he had found work, Aner’s life was troubling him and he wasn’t sure what he wanted do in life and why he wanted to live any longer, so he turned to drinking. Aner’s story is heartbreaking and he spent a lot of time thinking about his family back in Burma and has never really healed from his ordeal. When we heard his story we had to give him a chance and really wanted to help him. After 3 months at BEES he had managed to control his drinking, was starting to work as a member of the team and began to feel accepted in our little family. He went from a cranky drunk to a kind and caring man, who works very hard and has really made a life for himself. Back in January he invited Cherry his new love in life, a lovely woman who also has a very sad life story, to come and live with him at BEES, Cherry already has children, he had met her and fallen in love with her back in November last year when he was visiting his Thai family in the North, they are now expecting a baby together who will be arriving into the world inthe next few weeks. Aner has been with us for over a year now and has really changed massively, already he has started a little family, got his life on track and has taken on the role of being a great carer of the elephants and being a father to Cherry’s Kids. We are so happy for him, he continues to learn and improve every day and tries his best to meet the needs of the elephants, he now has a great understanding of what it is we are trying to achieve and has been very supportive in the work that we do.

Wow… Has it really been two whole years since Mae Kam’s retirement!!!

We have learnt so much in the two years since retiring our very first elephant, the beautiful Miss Mae Kam. One thing we have learnt is to not easily trust people or let people with power try to dictate the way you work to help the elephants because it seems some people have personal agendas and huge ego’s that stand in the way of positive change, another is that the only way to truly move forward is to do everything you can to better the situation in Thailand and not make it worse. By working together with people/organizations who put the welfare of elephants and animals first is the only way to move forward. We have found that when other organizations buy elephants it can mean that the funds are used to purchase another elephant, usually a calf that then gets ripped from its mother at a young age and forced into work. We are very careful not to contribute to further trade, it doesn’t mean that BEES will never buy an elephant but we have seen and learnt from other peoples mistakes and the consequences when it comes to making purchases of elephants in Thailand without doing their homework first, all we want to do is ensure positive change for the future and not fund further exploitation and abuse. It is only through EDUCATION and providing alternatives for elephants and their owners that we can make change! Currently there are 4,000+ registered captive elephants in Thailand, most of which are suffering from overwork, abuse and exploitation, working for tourism and entertainment. The people that own these elephants know no other way, this has been their way of life, income and sustenance for 100’s of generations. Since retiring Mae Kam we can see huge changes in her, Mae Kam was a sad and overworked elephant, she no longer wanted to work and shook tourists off her back, resulting in her being beaten badly with nails in bamboo sticks, she now has large scared bumps and welts around her bottom, scars that tell a very sad story of an elephant, that all she wanted was her freedom, to be an elephant! Her owner moved her out of camps and back to a small patch of forest above his farm land where he kept her for nearly two years, with no other elephant contact, just the comfort of a chain and food, he felt he had no choice, if he were to keep her in the camps he thought that she would be beaten so badly that she would give up. Keeping her out of work proved to be very difficult because he had a lot less of an income and he spent most of his time working long and hard days on his farm to make more money to survive and had very little time to give to his elephant, he had to work harder to provide for his family. There is no doubt in our minds he cared for his elephant which is why he moved her from the camps in the first place. He had no other choice but to keep her home, he had nowhere for her to go that he thought she would be safe. Then BEES came into the picture and he had an alternative, he needed help with earning an extra income so that he didn’t have to continue the back breaking work, on his own working on his farm to provide for his family. After joining bees his elephant is now safe, she lives a happy life spending her days just being an elephant and has the ability to interact with her own kind, her owner Panuu is paid rent by BEES and is now able to afford to hire workers to help him on the farm. Now, both the elephant and the owner live a better life.

From little things big things grow!

We need your help to help BEES grow and build to its full potential providing a home to many more elephants to come and helping to improve elephant welfare and making positive difference in Thailand:

The need to grow and expand on BEES becomes more and more urgent every day with more elephants needing rest or retirement. More owners are becoming interested in retiring their elephants from work and giving their tired, overworked elephants either time to rest or to go into a longer term retirement. In order to take on more elephants though we feel that we need to expand on our facilities, buy more land, build shelters and a medical hut so that we can provide the best possible care for the elephants and be able to provide a home for many more elephants to enjoy. We are still in the process of setting-up Non-Profit registration and are just a couple small papers off the Australian registration, but we have had many delays during this process and can’t wait any longer, as time is not on our side. There are elephants that need help today!

Poorly elephants need our help, we have been contacted by the owner directly and we feel we can’t walk away from this case:

On Tuesday 3rd June we went on a research trip through Mae Hong Son, a few times now we have been contacted by Mae Kam’s owner who has said that there is an owner that needs help and has two elephants that need care, rest and recuperation. On Monday the owner of these elephants, drove all the way out to BEES on approx 70km journey to tell us about his elephants and has asked us if we can provide a home for his mother elephant Kham Mee 33 years old and her 6 month old baby boy Boon for a rest period of up to one year and then the possibility of longer term at the end of the contract. He has been keeping them chained up in the forest after he moved them back to his home district after the baby was born 6 months ago. Because Kham Mee has been very weak since the birth of the baby and is suffering from damaged and uncomfortable feet, the owner feels it would be best not to work her at this time. But it seems he is struggling without the extra income and may need to return her to work sooner if he has no other choice. Health concerns are a big welfare issue for this mother and her baby at this time. There are serious concerns for the baby as he is suffering from a severe eye infection and needs ongoing treatment to try and avoid full loss of sight in the left eye. The mother has very badly cracked nails in both hind feet on the middle nails and could desperately use some foot work to avoid serious troubles in the not too far away future, if she is forced to return to work or left chained in the forest she could easily damage her feet further, possibly causing infection, a veterinarian will need to be called in to assess the mothers feet and the eye of the youngster to advise a treatment program for both elephants.

The owner came to us to ask for help with treatments but also because he is having trouble providing for his family without the extra income. After meeting the owners and going out to see the elephants and assessing the situation ourselves, we feel it would be best if they were moved to BEES on rest, to receive treatment instead of leaving them like this only to suffer even more in the nearby future.

If they are to move to BEES it will be temporarily in the hopes of securing a more long term agreement in the future. Ideally we hope at the end of the contractual period that we can persuade the owner to keep them here and out of work. We feel that after seeing these elephants and knowing about their situation that we can’t walk away and leave them to deteriorate even further. We will do everything we can to improve their livelihoods and hopefully to persuade the owner that giving them their freedom is the right thing to do, but we must all remember at the end of the day we do not own these elephants and we don’t have the final say.

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Kham Mee has very cracked nails



If they do move to BEES to receive treatment we will need to build an enclosure for the mother and baby and a small medical hut and treatment area so that they can both receive treatments. We have been in discussions with the owner and he is very keen to move his elephants to BEES as soon as possible so that the baby in particular can receive antibiotic treatments for his very sore eye to try and avoid the eye going completely blind and the mother can rest, recuperate and have her feet seen to. We have been in negotiations with him this week to try and extend the time of the contract but don’t want to push too many buttons, the fact that he has come to us to ask for help is a great start. We do really hope that any elephants that come into our care are permanent but the reality is, it is up to the owner.

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Baby Boon’s terribly uncomfortable eye 



Could you walk away if new you could help to improve their health so that if they have to return to work that they would not be suffering from serious health issues?

Let’s hope the owner makes the right decision to move them on rest instead of back to work, it would be a terrible mistake and very stressful for them both. They need to be moved so we can get Kham Mee and Baby Boon back to good health!

If you would like to make a donation to support our work you can donate via Karyn Steele’s Fundraiser for BEES via PayPal by enetering [email protected] or via bank transfer to Thai or Australian Bank




ACCT #: 419 2 35661 5


LOCATION: 45 Moo 4 Charoenniran , Amphur Maechaem, Tambon Chang Keung, Chiang Mai, Thailand50270




BSB: 082-146

ACCT#: 848647725.

SWIFT code: AAU3303M

LOCATION: 690 Pittwater Rd, Brookvale 2100 NSW Australia.

We are just a small organization trying to better the lives of the elephants, animals and the local community so that we can make a positive impact for the future. Everthing that we do, we do because we do because we are passionate about improving the welfare of the elephants and animals and making positive change.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, for your kindness and support.

On behalf of the elephants and animals, Thank You all for being a voice, by working together we CAN make a difference!

With lots of ele love from

Emily, Burm and the Elephants xxx