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."