Senior Elephants Escape Tortured Pasts And Become Best Friends

by Rebecca Landman
Rebecca is a writer living the Los Angeles dream. She loves hiking, music, and crocheting on her couch to the background lull of Netflix. She believes our world is complex. By sharing and listening to each other’s stories, we unpack that complexity layer by layer, learning more about who we are and how we want to live our lives. She writes to keep learning.

Elephants Nam Phon and Jele each began life braving different horrors.

Nam Phon spent nearly half a century laboring for the tourism industry.

Likely ripped away from her mother as an infant, she spent years giving tourists grueling rides day in and day out.

In 2004, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) rescued Nam Phon. However, her original owners reclaimed her in 2010, re-enslaving her for their own benefit.

After years of grueling negotiation, WFFT was finally able to welcome this gorgeous, now 55-year-old elephant back into their sanctuary in March of this year — just in time for her to meet her soon-to-be best friend, Jele.

WFFT found Jele chained to a tree. She’d likely been left to die by the trekking company who’d overworked her throughout her entire life. Once this 60-year-old beauty made it to WFFT and braved rehabilitation, she began revealing her authentic, feisty confidence.

Since Nam Phon’s WFFT return, Jele’s taken her under her wing. The two elephants have become remarkably inseparable!

Keep scrolling to learn all about these beautiful creatures’ budding friendship.

[H/T: The Dodo]

sad elephant

When rescuers initially met Nam Phon, her spirits were broken.

This 55-year-old elephant had likely been kidnapped from her mother as an infant and was forced to work in the tourism industry for decades.

Back in 2004, though, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, or WFFT, rescued her — promising her freedom within their secure sanctuary.

And Nam Phon enjoyed this freedom for a few glorious years, right up until bad luck came strolling back into her life.

chained elephant

In 2010, Nam Phon’s original owners returned, demanding the sanctuary release her back into their custody.

Due to financial disagreements, the sanctuary was forced to relinquish this precious elephant back to her previous owner — back into a life of hard labor.

elephant being rescued

WFFT then spent the next six years diligently negotiating Nam Phon’s second rescue.

Finally, in March of this year, she was welcomed back to WFFT with open arms — finally free.

elephant friends

Once she returned to the rescue, Nam Phon was immediately recognized and greeted by a few of her old friends, Khan Kluey and Somboon.

However, it was a new friendship that soon stole her complete focus.

Nam Phon befriended Jele.

elephant best friends

When WFFT found Jele, a 60-year-old elephant, she was chained to a tree in the middle of nowhere, left for dead.

Rescuers believe she’d lived most her life as a trekking elephant. Once her usefulness waned, though, her previous owners likely abandoned her.

elephant best friends

Thankfully, WFFT found her and nursed her back from the brink.

With proper treatment and tender care, Jele’s personality blossomed.

She began showing sanctuary workers her confident, wild spirit — even breaking out of her enclosure every once in a while.

elephant best friends

The minute Nam Phon stepped foot back in the sanctuary, Jele took her under her wing.

elephant best friends

While Jele is a feisty old broad, Nam Phon is a gentler, more relaxed wanderer.

They are the perfect pair.

elephant best friends

These adorable best friends spend almost every day holding trunks and never leaving one another’s side.

After each living a separate lifetime of utter agony, these adorable elephants have found total bliss in being one another’s best friend.

elephant best friends

Hopefully, these two get to spend many more free years enjoying each other’s company.

elephant best friends

While both Nam Phon and Jele quickly fell victim to abuse early on in life. Since their rescues, they’ve found beautiful joy with one another.

What do you think of these adorable elephants’ blossoming friendship? Have you ever had the chance to connect with rescued elephants? Let us know in the comments.

Please SHARE this adorable friendship with other animal lovers in your community!