Mare Boon Mee (Mother of good fortune in Thai) is the oldest member of the BLES family. In March 2007, a panicked owner contacted Katherine and Anon to urgently request their help with his dying cow, Boon Mee. Katherine and Anon examined her and found that although she was visibly exhausted and quite ill, she was determined to live.
Katherine noted Boon Mee’s dramatically sunken cheeks. It is normal for the faces of elderly elephants to hollow out, but Boon Mee’s condition was extreme. While examining her mouth, Katherine was distressed to see that Boon Mee’s blackened teeth had grown at 90-degree angles into the roof of her mouth. This was likely a result of old logging training practices traced back to Burma. Young elephants, too small to be fitted with a harness, were taught to pick up and drag logs with their mouths. The owner mentioned that Boon Mee hadn’t eaten in a week; the reason was now obvious. Forest fires had devastated her surroundings and destroyed any soft vegetation she could manage with her dental difficulties. The owner hadn’t thought to source food for his elderly elephant. As a result, Boon Mee was literally starving to death.
Despite the owner’s lack of interest in selling her, Anon persuaded him that Boon Mee should retire to BLES. In her case, funds were quickly forthcoming, and Boon Mee was saved thanks to the help of the Alexander Abraham Foundation.
Boon Mee’s adjustment period was lengthy. She had spent years in absolute isolation. Specifically, Boon Mee had not seen another elephant for a quarter of a century. Therefore, she found it difficult to tolerate being in an elephant family that included bulls and babies. Initially, Boon Mee refused to integrate with the herd. Physically pushing the younger elephants away, she would repeatedly withdraw to the safety of her own stable. Today, Boon Mee is still establishing her position in the herd, but she willingly mixes with the other females, a welcome sign of her steady recovery.
On December 1, 2010, Boon Mee, our beloved, great grandmother, passed away. She died in her sleep, food in her mouth and literally had a smile on her beautiful face.
The film here describes BLES - what we do and why we are needed. Enjoy!