There’s nothing quite like the bond between caretaker and animal and this story proves it. When this one animal caretaker needed to get her elephant to do something, she decided to try out a new method. With a swift lift of her arm, she gently swatted the elephant on the backside with a cloth. The elephant’s reaction, however, was highly unexpected.
Image: Elephant Nature Park
Located in Chiang Mai, Thailand is an Elephant Nature Park. Throughout the last 20 years, the nature park has worked extensively to provide a wonderful sanctuary for elephants that have been rescued from bad situations. The sanctuary even allows visitors to come and admire the elephants.
Image: Elephant Nature Park
The park was opened in 1996 and co-founded by Lek Chailert. Throughout the 20 years that the park has been open, they have been able to rescue around 200 elephants. On the downside, many of the elephants were brought in from terrible situations and suffered from severe psychological damage.
18. Safe Space
Regardless of their backstory, the sanctuary opens every elephant in with warm arms. “We have to heal them with love,” Chailert was quoted saying in a CBS News interview. She continued to enforce the idea that trust was key in the healing process.
“We have to let nature rehab them… make them feel that this is a safe place for them,” Chailert continued to explain. “Trust is the first thing that we have to go and do.” So that’s exactly what the park has been focusing on when rehabilitating the elephants.
16. Free-Born Elephant
Image: Great Taste Magazine
Chailert’s main goal with the sanctuary was to breed elephants that would know nothing of cruelty and captivity. This dream was finally accomplished when Faa Mai, their first free-born elephant, was born in 2009. Everyone was excited about the birth.
15. No Suffering
“She is our first-born free, [she] never suffered in a training crush. She is the most happy elephant,” the elephant sanctuary’s website read. “We are so happy to see our beautiful little girl growing up amongst love and freedom.”
Thanks to her happy upbringing, Faa Mai was able to relate to humans in a way never expected…
14. Close Bond
Since Faa Mai was born free and without any memories from being treated cruelly by humans, she bonded easily with the staff and Chailert especially. In fact, she and Chailert had an especially close bond and the two could be spotted together quite frequently.
13. Very Close
Footage released from the sanctuary has proven just how close the two are. In one video, you can see Fai Mai pull in Chailert with her trunk. Fai Mai then gives places her mouth on her caretaker and gives her a big elephant kiss!
12. Nap Time Routine
Out of all of their special bonding moments, the one that is most special is the way Chailert puts Fai Mai down for a nap. Since Fai Mai was little, Chailert has followed the same routine to help the elephant fall asleep and Fai Mai expects nothing less.
A video posted on YouTube showcased this interesting bonding experience between the two. As Fai Mai is getting ready to sleep, Chailert pulls out a scarf and begins singing a sweet lullaby into the elephant’s ear. Then the routine gets even more unusual…
10. Loving Nudge
As Chailert continues to sing her song to Fai Mai, she then takes the scarf and begins to lightly swat her on the back with it. Although this might seem strange, possibly even cruel, it is not at all. Fai Mai enjoys the light tapping against her body as it helps her fall asleep.
9. Kneeling Down
As the tapping and singing continue, Fai Mai eventually settles down onto her hind legs. When Fai Mai finally lays down on her side, Chailert motions closer to continue singing right near the elephant’s ear. Fai Mai appears to be in heaven.
8. Falling Asleep
Closer now than before, Chailert still continues to tap the elephant with the scarf as she sings the lullaby. However, now Fai Mai is finally closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep. All you can hear now is the loud snoring of Fai Mai as she dreams.
7. Viral Sensation
After the video was posted online, Internet users went crazy over the footage. People were in amazement over how Chailert figured out such an amazing method to put Fai Mai to sleep. The video has now been viewed by over six million people.
6. Touching Moment
“This is so touching,” a commenter wrote under the video. “The voice is so soothing, and the brushing of the cloth must feel so good to the dear beast. I wonder if it reminds the elephant of mom’s ears, perhaps? Elephants are great souls.”
It seems that Chailert’s method may not be all madness after all. A recent study conducted has found that classical music does indeed have a soothing effect on animals that are held in captivity. The researchers noticed a difference in behavioral patterns in elephants.
4. Sensitive Animals
Image: Roger Arnold
“Elephants are incredibly sensitive beasts,” David Field, zoological director of London Zoo told The Guardian. He is not surprised by the findings in the research at all and states that it would make sense based on how sensitive and perceptive elephants can be.
“Their appreciation of noise communication is far beyond our hearing range,” Field told The Guardian. “They communicate in deep infrasonic vibrations. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if [classical music] has this calming effect.”
2. Elephant Whisperer
Still, many people believe that Chailert just has a special touch with elephants. They have even named her the “elephant whisperer” and believe that she knows how to resonate with them. Chailert, however, believes that she just knows how to treat elephants with respect.
Image: Chiang Rai Times
“I never think, ‘Elephant is an animal.’ I think they are a person. So that is why, when I talk to them, I treat them like my family,” Chailert said. “We understand even if we speak a different language. But we understand each other.”