Although, she adds, Gen Thong had a mahout who loved him, the owners were driven by the need to make an income from the elephant's tender back.
He did, however, have his grandmother Too Meh, best friend Boon Rott and his dear auntie Mae Doom to lean on.
McCrea, who had been working in the area, along with her partner Sombat, began spending time with Gen Thong.
"This is when we both saw how much limitation the elephants had in this particular camp," she recalls. "We knew that there was no alternative for these elephants available due to the lack of jobs, but we had to do something to give these elephants a better life."
And so, McCrea and Sombat began planning a forest sanctuary - one that would not only help the elephants but also the hill tribe community that depended on them so dearly.
They came up with the idea of giving the villagers alternative incomes through homestay programs, driving, caring for elephants and building projects.
Once McCrea and Sombat had raised enough money to build the sanctuary, Kindred Spirits opened its doors.
And Gen Thong was among the first elephants to walk through it.