Pang Tong (Mrs. Gold in Thai) is the mother of the Sanctuary’s namesake, Boon Lott, and the matriarch of the BLES family. Her life beforeBLES was filled with abuse and distress. When Katherine and Anon met her owner, he proudly shared his personal story of beating, starving, and working her under dangerous conditions. He was oblivious to Pang Tong’s first pregnancy until he found the dead calf’s body beside her. The calf may have been stillborn due to Pang Tong’s highly distressed state or her isolation from other elephants. Lacking guidance provided by female elders, she may have panicked and killed the baby in ignorance. Pregnant a second time, the owner was again unaware of Pang Tong’s condition until a serious logging accident induced a premature labour. The tiny male calf and his mother were transported to an elephant hospital where the staff agreed that he would not survive more than a few days. The calf did survive, for just over two years, and was named Boon Lott (survivor in Thai) — the courageous calf that inspired the founding of BLES.
After the untimely death of Boon Lott, Pang Tong was returned to her life as an overworked, under fed, logging elephant. Word eventually reached Katherine that Pang Tong’s owner hoped to sell her for use as a Bangkok street beggar. Katherine began desperately raising funds and enlisted the help of The Elephants Umbrella Fund and The Elephant Foundation; two organizations dedicated to helping elephants in distress. Thankfully, the funds were quick to arrive and Pang Tong was transported to the safety of BLES.
Upon her arrival, Pang Tong was agitated and aggressive, displaying defiant expressions and body language. In less than a month, under Anon’s care, she became calm, amiable, and surprisingly affectionate.
No one thought Pang Tong would ever learn to trust humans after the cruelty she had suffered. Anon and the mahouts’ patience and understanding have shown Pang Tong that she is resolutely safe at BLES.
Now a central part in our BLESfamily, Pang Tong thrives in her role as the matriarch. She warmly adopts our new rescues into her care and all the elephants, including the bulls, gravitate to her.
Banner photograph:Evelyn Connor
This is a film celebrating BLES!!!! Enjoy . . .