Friday, December 30, 2011


The day before yesterday I spent a wonderful day just being a tourist at the Elephant Nature Park.  Sometimes I go there to do something specific and sometimes I go there to relax.  Wednesday a friend of mine had booked a day trip, so I decided to go along.  As the day started I decided to just be a tourist for the day. So, what did I see?   Compassion would be the one word answer.  Gentle Reader, you know that   I have background knowledge that the first time visitors may not have, but I sense that everyone feels the compassion that is so prevalent at the Elephant Nature Park.

Come see it for yourself.  That may take a bit of planning; in the meantime you are welcome to see all the images taken on this trip at

The morning started at the ENP Office in Chiang Mai where I met up with my friend David.  We boarded a van. The  driver and our guide, Khun Quan started the journey wending through the tiny streets of Ancient Chiang Mai picking up other tourists at their hotels and guest houses.  Then we were off to the park.  The trip takes a bit more than an hour but the time goes quickly. The guides provide information about the day, the elephants and the park. There is a DVD about the plight of the Thai elephant and the Elephant Nature Park that sets the tone for the day.

Quan, our able guide.
As we were pulling into the park I noticed the side of a new building (housing for long term volunteers, I believe) being adorned with a new flower garden.  Several women were sharing this task and what do I notice, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation, Sangduen “Lek” Chialert is one of them!  This is a roll your sleeves up and get involved kind of lady.  As soon as the van stopped, I ran back down the road to get a photo.  Now for a moment I’m not a tourist, but one of Lek’s volunteer staff.  She wants a photograph with her fellow gardeners.  She wants them to know how important their work really is and she wants everyone to know that the community around the park is very involved!  The park and it’s several activities, is designed to provide the best care possible for the elephants and other animals the end up there.  It also purposefully supports the surrounding community.
6 beautiful souls, 7 counting the dog
Every tourist begins his / her visit to the park with a safety briefing.  We have the pleasure to interact with these gentle giants but we do need to remember that they are huge and powerful.  The safety tips are pretty basic and tourists are always with a guide whose job is to make sure you enjoy your day, do no harm to any of the animals and do no harm to yourself. After the safety briefing we went to the shed where Chiang Yim, his mother and auntie were waiting for us to give them their morning basket of fruit.  It’s always fun to watch people as they feed these elephants.   Some are skittish and might drop a piece of watermelon; others take it all in stride.  Each group, usually less than 10 people has a chance to feed different elephants.  A good time is had by all.
From the shed we went out past the medical station to visit with Medo and her friend, Mae Mai. These elephants are so gentle, so sweet and have endured so much.   You can read about them at and  (The site’s have slightly different information).  Medo is one of my favorite elephants.  I remember when I first came to the park over a year and a half ago someone told me that elephants will pick up on your energy and that I should not feel sorry for Medo.  Rather I should cheer her on.   I make a point of doing just that.  After all she has a good home, a best friend who shows much compassion and is in no danger of being further abused.
Medo and one of her old fans
Medo and a family of new friends
After our visit we returned to the platform to get ready for lunch.  I noticed the new dog that has just been shipped up from Bangkok.  He’s blind and just lost a leg due to infection, an infection that was flood related.  Many people would have put him down but not this foundation.   Another example of compassion hits me in the heart.  This little dog will, I am sure, be one of my favorites.  He has a sweet disposition and for reasons that escape me at the moment, seems to be very trusting of humans.  Certainly his history before rescue would not justify the trust.  He’ll be in good company with other three legged dogs and a couple of blind elephants.
Starting a new life, a life of compassion
At the Elephant Nature Park there is always a great lunch buffet.  It’s mostly vegetarian with maybe a couple of chicken or fish dishes. Available are great curries, soups, rice, several kinds of noodles and delightful salads.   They have huge plates, which I always manage to fill.   

The afternoon starts with a trip to the river where people can enjoy bathing the elephants.  The elephants come to the river in definite order, in shifts if you will.  All caution is taken to ensure that there are never elephants who are known to have disagreement present with the tourists.  The bull elephants never come to the river at the same time, especially if there are any guests near the river.  All in all it’s really a great time and the elephants enjoy the water.  Some just accept the bucket bath, some will get involved using their trunk and others prefer to wade out away from the guests for their own private bath.  Like people, each has his or her own personality.

After the bath time there is usually an opportunity to get close up photos with some of the elephants.  Depending on the day different elephants are close.  Elephants show true compassion. Jokia is blind.  Her abusive history is well documented on the websites mentioned above.  When she arrived at the camp another elephant, Mae Perm adopted Jokia. They are inseparable and always among the tourist favorites.  There are elephants who because of their injuries do not lay down because they would not be able to stand again.  One such elephant has a best friend who come and stands next to her, then they lean into each other and sleep.
Mid afternoon finds the guests in the conference room for refreshments, and educational DVD and sometimes a live talk by the founder.  Having seen the film on numerous occasions I took the opportunity to relax for a bit with a great massage.  The park has a massage room offering both foot massage and Thai massage.  The massage room is one of several community involvement programs that are ongoing at the park. It’s a great value and the massage ladies are really very good.
The last couple of hours afford the guests the opportunity to relax, or spend more time in close proximity to the elephants.    
Afternoon Photo Opportunity
Somewhere around 4:30 the guests head back to Chiang Mai always happy to have seen the elephants and to have learned about their plight.  There is one common complaint. People simply don’t want to leave.   My solution is to sign up for at least one night.  The extra day affords you a morning walk in the fields to see the elephants and more time to enjoy the park as a whole.
Mud Bath in the morning

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pang Pornsawan - December 16, 2012

She is doing well, my favorite elephant, Pang Pornsawan.  A couple of days ago I went to the hospital at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center to visit her.  For some, looking at her maimed foot may be difficult, but I remember it when the wound was fresh.  A lot of healing is evident.  

16 December 2011

The chief doctor was not available on Friday and the young veterinarian who is applying the treatment speaks no English.  I did learn that the treatments continue to consist of twice daily cleaning the wounded area and applying medicines to prevent infection.  In the past the prognosis had been that she would be in hospital approximately one year.  She’s now been there about 4 months.  When asked how long this time, the young vet replied “Two years or less”.  In the past the prognosis has always been a year.
Daily Treatment 
There is no way yet, that this gal can put any weight at all on her left rear foot. She’s compensating.  To walk she puts her two front feet slightly ahead of body then hops forward with her right rear. She may never win an elephant race, but she will survive and once released from hospital she’ll have the opportunity to spend the rest of her life in sanctuary with other elephants at the Elephant Nature Park.  There she will meet two other land mine victims, but that’s a story for the future.

I continue to be amazed by her disposition.  I’m not a person who wants to get all ‘cuddly’ with every elephant I see.  Pang is different.  From the first time I met her back in August there seems to be a magical connection between us.  I can’t explain it, and if I could you would think I’ve gone off my rocker.  I feel like she knows I’m there to support her in her recovery and sometimes I get the sense that she may know what profound effect she is having on my attitude.  She motivates me to do more and more.  
She is lovely! 

Pang Pornsawan's Christmas Message to Me

So, I’m standing close to her, gently patting her face when she looks at me with her big brown eye and asks what’s troubling me.  
A visit with Pang Pornsawan on December 16, 2012
 “The art sale event” I say. Lowering my voice to an inaudible whisper I share my concerns that people aren't rushing to buy the prints that are available.  She understands that as an artist I don’t want to lower prices but then she reminds me that it’s the Christmas season.  “Christmas was an extremely important Christian holiday which has been perverted by commercial greed” I argue.  Now she’s silent, fully present and waiting.  “Oh alright, I’ll have a sale like everyone else” I told her.  Pang’s message is clear as a bell on a cold crisp night “Do the Art Sale Event for love and leave the results up to the spirit of Christmas”.  I can do that.
Buy your tickets now! 
There are four beautiful canvas prints available at Taste From Heaven in Chaing Mai.  The price is reduced by 30% for the holidays. Pop in, buy one, roll it up, stick it in a mailing tube and you have a perfect art piece to take or send back home.

Abundant Blessings,


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Art Sale Event Moved to 21 January 2012

With my personal apologies for any inconvenience this may cause, it is necessary to re-schedule Pang Pornsawan’s Art Sale Event.  The new date will be Saturday January 21, 2012.  The event will still be held at Taste From Heaven in Chiang Mai.

Why was the event rescheduled?   The Bangkok floods have caused several challenges not the least of which is that several pieces of art being shipped from outside Thailand have not arrived.  Further, many of the supporters of this event are involved in rescue and relief projects in the Bangkok area and cannot attend.

The January 21st edition of The Pang Pornsawan Art promises to be bigger and better than what we had planned for this Saturday.   Tickets are on sale now at both Taste From Heaven and the Elephant Nature Park Office.   You can also buy your tickets on line at  Art Sale Event

Abundant Blessings, 

I saw Pang’s doctor in Surin on Saturday.  She is responding favorably to the treatments. New skin is growing as he had hoped.  Her prognosis remains the same, she’ll spend about a year in hospital.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Two Visits to the Elephant Nature Park

In the midst of all the activity I've overlooked reporting that the Elephant Nature Park is still there and is doing fine. Mae Rim, above Chiang Mai has not been in flood danger for over a month.  However, it was still  rainy and the sky was majical. 

After the Rain
The last few trips have resulted in several nice photographs and if you are new to the notificaion list your picture just might be in one or more.   You can check them out at
A good mud hole is always a welcome sight, even if they will plant a tree in it tomorrow!
The highlight of the 18th was the arrival of the memorial trees which were planted in Memory of Lek's mother and her God mother "Mom Nancy".  Unfortunately the trees arrived at dusk and some planting had to be postponed.
Add caption

The highliht of the 21st was being able to spend the day with Connie and a few of her friends from California.  It was also great to see that the memorial trees had been planted along with a few others.

The park is doing well, the volunteers are amazing.  Many of the volunteers have gone with Lek and the foundation to the flood waters of Bangkok where they are fighting to save as many stranded animals as possible.

Abundant Blessings,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tickets Go On Sale !

Pang Pornsawan's Art Sale is a reality!  Tickets go on sale in Chiang Mai tomorrow!  You can actually buy the on line today.    Please check the website now and frequently in the coming days to see all the good news at Pang Pornsawan's Art Sale Event

I won't write much today other than to encourage you to check the website and ask you to pass this on to your friends:   There are several ways you can help:

a.  Help get the word out! Share this everywhere!

b.  Donate Art for auction or for sale on line.  So far there are 7 donating artists. I would like to see that   grow to more than 20 in the next week!

c.  Buy a ticket and attend.  Attend with the intent of buying one of these great art pieces.

d.  Buy a ticket as a donation

e.  Recommend to me vendors I can contact for door prizes and gift bag items.  Currently we are promising a gift bag with over 500 baht for the two higher tiers of ticket purchasers.  I'd really like to double or triple that!

Remember,  ALL PROCEEDS from this event go to help Pang Pornsawan.  She definitely deserves our help!!

Abundant Blessings,
Pang is #6 on the Daily Treatment Board

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Video of Pang Pornsawan's Recovery   contains great video clips of Pang Pornsawan's road to recovery.   Follow her recovery here and at the link

Abundant Blessings

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pang Pornsawan Update - as of 19 September 2011

Pang Pornsawan Update
as of 19 September 2011

Pang Pornsawan, the beautiful elephant who stepped on a line mine on August 23d and has been in The Thai Elephant Conservation Center Hospital since the 31st of August is making great progress in her recovery.   According to Dr. Sittidet Mahasawangkul, Chief of Elephant Hospital, she is progressing better than expected.  There is new skin growing in the wounded area, months ahead of the original predictions.  Still, the prognosis is that she will remain in hospital for approximately one year.
Dr. Sittidet Mahasawangkul
This elephant is receiving two treatments a day.  They consist of sterilizing the wound, cleaning out the cavity created by the explosion, and trimming dead skin.  Although she receives pain killers, it’s obvious to even the casual observer that the treatments are painful.
Ready for Treatment
When I said goodbye to Pang Pornsawan on the 31st of August there was less tension in her mannerisms.  The shock seems to have worn off and now she is going through the treatments with her same gentile attitude.  In order to give her the treatments she has her bad leg strapped to a support, her other legs hobbled and someone holds her tail out of the doctor’s way.  She has to stay in this uncomfortable position for the time the treatment takes.  Her behavior is exemplary. Yes when the pain gets bad, she complains by verbalizing and trunk slapping.  Still, she is very gentle with the humans around her.  She hasn’t attempted to hit or kick anyone.

Treatment Time
In addition to the two treatments, she also receives an IV of anti-biotic medicine every morning.
IV is best way to fight infection
The team effort to care for Pang Pornsawan continues and will continue.  The TECC hospital is knowledgeable, professional and dedicated to the care of the elephants in their charge.  Pang Pornsawan seems to be a favorite.  Immediately on her arriveal, The Save Elephant Foundation  dispatched two mahouts to stay with and care for Pang Pornsawan.  The foundation also makes weekly visits.  The visits always include a truck load of food for her.

Arrangements have been made to ensure that after her hospitalization, Pang Pornsawan will be able to live out her life at the Elephant Nature Park.  This is a huge commitment!   I had thought about doing an art sale to raise money.   The plan is only slightly modified; ALL the money raised will go to help defray the expenses of Pang Pornsawan's hospital stay.   Can you get involved?  If so send me an email or give me a call.
Taste from Heaven will host the art event

This is the ad that I am placing in publications
Last for this post, here is a link to a video of Dr.  Sittidet explaining  PangPornsawan's situation.  It's in Thai with English Sub-titles.  Well done and well worth watching.

Abundant Blessings,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday 26 November 2011

Pang Pornsawan, 8/31/11

WHAT:  Art sale / auction is being organized.   ALL proceeds will be donated to the Save Elephant Foundation and earmarked for the medical care and rescue of Pang Pornsawan (The 18 year old female who recently stepped on a landmine).   Please be generous with your time, your art and perhaps your money as well. 

WHEN:   on Saturday 26 November 2011 there will be an art sale and I need YOU to make it a success!    

TIME:   Afternoon & Evening Exact Times to be announced.

WHERE:  Taste from Heaven Restaurant, 237-239 Thapae Road, A. Muang, Chiang Mai Thailand. Phone: +66 (0) 53-208803,

ARTIST DONATIONS NEEDED:  We are asking artists to donate one or more pieces of your art to this event.  Photographs, sketches, painting, carvings.  Art pieces are being collected at the Elephant Nature Park Office in Chiang Mai.  Please contact me for details.

DOOR PRIZE DONATIONS NEEDED:  This is a great way to advertise your business or organization. Please contact me for details.

THE EVENT will include: 
  • a.     Delicious Vegetarian Buffet & soft drinks of your choice
  • b.      Door Prizes Galore
  • c.       Artist Interaction
  • d.      Silent Auction of art pieces

TICKETS:  Advance tickets for only 500 baht go on sale soon.  They will be available at Taste from Heaven, and the Elephant Nature Park Office.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Incompete Story of Pang Pornsawan & Her Friends

I title this the incomplete story for at least two reasons:  1st I don’t know the whole story and likely never will, 2nd thanks to several wonderful people Pang Pornsawan’s story is not over, not over by a long shot.  
Pang Porsawan has a snack

On 30 August 20011, The Elephant Nature Park received an urgent phone call from the Karen headman in a village known as Tavor.  It is in Amphur Tasongyang, Chanwat Tak, Thailand. (If you want to find it on a map, get a very large map and search the Thai / Burmese border in the Tak province). The headman was asking for help to save Pang Pornsawan.  This 18 year old female elephant had stepped on a land mine.  Sangduen “Lek”  Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation immediately dispatched the vet team and mobile clinic from the park.  It’s about an 8 hour drive from Chiang Mai.
Dr. Prasit & Mr. Song Muang 
At the village they found this young  elephant name, who may also be in the early stages of pregnancy,  standing shaking and her left rear leg.  It is horribly damaged from the landmine explosion . The bottom of the goot is gone! There are incredible rips and tears in the skin extending some  24 inches up to the leg. There is shrapnel, a lot of shrapnel imbedded in the wound.  The wound was filthy and was described as smelly and rotten.
Raw Wound
Mr. Song Muang Suriya with the elephant
Mr Song Muang Suriya , headman of the village reports that this female elephant belong to his nephew , who takes the elephant across to work in  the elephant logging in the deep jungle of  Burma.  Every day after finishing work, pulling the logs , the mahout will let the elephant walk around the jungle to eat in the forest, On 23 August about 3 pm, just a couple minutes  after mahout let her roam free, he heard a big explosion and the elephant roaring and screaming from the jungle. The mahout ran to Pang Pornsawan to fine her trying to stand and falling down from the shock of the her injury.  The mahout and his friends tried to stop the bleeding with herbs. They succeeded but the elephant lost a lot of blood.

The next day the mahout startied walking the elephant out from the jungle to the village to ask for help. From the deep jungle, with heavy rain and small mud trail, it took 3 days and 3 nights to reach the village .

Doctor Prasit Moleechart the vet from Elephant Nature park called for help from the vet  team from Elephant Hospital from Elephant Conservation Center.  Doctor  Sittidet Mahasawangkul chief vet and his team were sent to help and move Pang Ponsawan to the Hospital in Lampang to have emergency surgery .

Dr Sittidet
On the morning of the 31st Pang Ponsawan was loaded on the TECC hospital truck and transported to the hospital in Lampang. She is now undergoing treatment and I have every intention of keeping you posted. In the meantime here is a photo collection of her trip to Lampang
Getting on the truck

Swollen after the necessary long ride

Happy and good natured just walked off the truck

First Treatment

The wound has been cleaned, she has a long long way to go

Lek reports that "In the last couple years too many of  elephants and farm animals in the village  are died and injured from the land mine  three days ago the villager lost 2 cows and many injured from landmine explosive”. Mr Rin Sudsai , Tavor's villager said it’s not just the animals; “the villagers and the Karen refugee many time died and injured from the explosive when they walk to find the jungle food or wood for fire. It very [difficult] insure for safety in the jungle this day” .

“We have received 3 injured elephant from this year , the first is the bull elephant who not deep , wound and we used the herbal to treated him and he was survive , later he went back to work  logging again”  Mr. Song Muang said.  “The second elephant is female , but she too bad injured, she stay suffer only a couple days and died “ Song Muang also said he doesn’t want this one to die so he decided to call the vet to help.

“Many elephant when they injured from landmine in the jungle , it too difficult to help and rescue them many of them died in the jungle which is tragedy “ Lek said.

Today in Thailand and along Burma border it more than 300 domestic  elephants that  work at risk of being killed or maimed by landmines. After Thailand banned logging in 1989. Many Karen took their elephants to work illegally in Burma.  Patee Tanu, one of the Karen elephant owners said “We have no choice, if we didn’t go to work then we have no income, then we have to take the risk”

My thanks to Sangduen “Lek” Chailert for allowing me to use her material to write this article.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Connie Speight & The Elephants Umbrella Fund

There are some marvelous people involved in the world of animal rights and conservation. One of them is Connie Speight. I met her in Thailand earlier this year. Connie is not your stereo typical anything. She is now 86 years young, full of energy and has earned the right to be a bit opinionated. She was born and raised in Southern California and has been in her same home for 31 years. She is stable, knows what she likes and dislikes. This spunky lady has an undying passion for the Asian Elephant. When I contacted her about interviewing her when I was in the United States, she invited me to her home in Santa Barbara. I drove up from San Diego, we had a lovely visit; both of us agreed it was all too short.
Connie at her home in Santa Barbara
She suggested that we drive into Santa Barbara and have local Mexican food at the Mercado, celebrating the annual Santa Barbara Fiesta. She warned me that she is a frustrated race car driver. I found out that for her 85th birthday she took a race car driving lesson and was a bit disappointed because the track was designed in a way that she couldn’t hit a hundred miles an hour. She drove us into Santa Barbara and contrary to what a couple of her friends have said, her driving is just fine, thank you.

Connie and Wanna 
As I tried to get started with the “formal interview”, it became obvious that one thing Connie dislikes is useless redundancy. Many of my basic questions were answered with referrals to her website. Let’s mention that now: And, I’ll tell you that some of the information following came from my conversation with Connie on August 4th and some of it I just took right off of her website. Fair enough?

Jerry: How did you come to choose the Asian Elephant as the object of your passion?
Connie: Some years ago, I was in Bangkok and witnessed the heartbreaking scene of elephants begging on the streets. I came home knowing that I had to do something and started the long process of getting government 501c charity status. The Elephants Umbrella Foundation was born. I am convinced that one person can make a difference- one elephant at a time.

Jerry: In all you have rescued 12 elephants, is that right?

Connie: Yes.

Jerry: When we met in late January you mentioned that you were negotiating the rescue of an elephant in Laos. Is she #12?

Connie: Yes, her name is Mai Kham Onh. She is young, only 18 and was rescued from the logging industry in Laos. She will be living her life in the only elephant sanctuary in Laos and can hang out with our two previous rescues there. More about her is at:

Jerry: Tell me about the other 11.

Connie: Each rescued elephant has a heart breaking story they are all on my web site. Fortunately each one has a very happy ending.

Jerry: Fair enough.

Connie: I just became a grandmother. (She hands me a photograph of a baby elephant). He was born the 1st of August at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Thailand. His mother, Wanna, is one our rescues. I was not happy when I found out she was pregnant as I had asked that she not be bred until she was older. The elephants are chained in the forest for the night so they can feed. However, JoJo a young bull was not put on a strong enough chain. His hormones were racing and he broke his chain and had his way with her. Nothing we can do about that, so now we have a new baby elephant. He has been named Singha, which means August in Thai, since he was born August first. Fortunately both mother and calf are doing well.

Jerry: Tell me more about the Elephants Umbrella Fund organization.

Connie: Well our primary mission is to rescue elephants. However we have taken on a few projects to aid the sanctuaries that house the elephants. We support a mobile vet unit in Laos, have contributed to the purchase of land at BLES and funded a retaining wall at ENP. We have also purchased two high end microscopes for the vets at TECC and radio collars for the calves in Sri Lanka being returned to the wild. Details are available at

Jerry: So where are the 12 elephants?

Connie: 3 in Laos, 2 at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC), 3 at Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) and 3 at the Elephant Nature Park (ENP) and one in Cambodia. Of course, I like to also think about baby Singha as being our 13th.

Jerry: Elephant poaching is a serious problem. Can I share your opinion about a solution?

Connie: Shoot the poachers! Strengthen the laws, most are just a slap on the wrist.

Jerry: People will want to know if the elephants you have rescued know you.

Connie: Two do because of the situation when they were rescued. The rest do not. Remember they are not pets.

Jerry: How do you decide which sanctuary will get a particular elephant?

Connie: Usually when we have the funds available we let the sanctuaries know. When they have an elephant in mind they contact us and we start the negotiations which can some times take months and be very frustrating.

Jerry: Other than donations what do you do to raise money for the elephants?

Connie: We have a booth on Earth Day mostly for education but we do get some donations. I have a Spring and Fall sale mostly of succulents and cactus I have raised. Also I sell items I bring back from Thailand: jade, silk scarfs, handbags, jewelry etc. This is my biggest money maker. We have two, clothing exchanges which are a load of fun and bring in about $1,200. Donations are our primary source of funding.

Jerry: What else would you like the readers to know?

Connie: The Asian elephant is in more dire circumstances than the African. Vietnam has only 80, China 200, Thailand has lost thousands. The general public seems to think only of Africa when elephants are mentioned. They have no idea how drastic the situation is and Asian elephants don’t get the world publicity Africans do. There are about only 40,000 animals in all of Asia. Most governments in Asia have so far shown little action in demanding stricter laws for crimes against these animals. They have allowed mines, dams, villages and high speed train tracks to abolish migration routes and forests. It is predicted than in less than two decades there will be no wild elephants in many countries. This is the fourth most intelligent animal on the planet. They are fantastic parents, have prodigious memories, live a humans life span, are playful caring creatures. WAKE UP--- AND DO SOMETHING!!!!

Author’s note: It’s always an honor and a privilege to spend time with Connie and people like her. In life there are two kinds of people Givers and Takers. Connie is a giver, big time.  You can learn more and hopefull support her great efforts at