5 min read

Elephant Was So Skinny After Giving Rides To Tourists For Years

<p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/BLESelephants/?fref=photo" target="_blank">Facebook/Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary</a></p>

Just four weeks ago, Sao Noi watched as rescuers walked into the camp where she was forced to give back-breaking rides to tourists and freed her friend Sontaya.

It's possible that Sao Noi had a flash of hope as she watched her friend be unshackled and led to a truck, where she was given a flower crown for her journey to Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Sukhothai, Thailand.

Perhaps Sao Noi thought that she, too, would be unchained that day.

But the emaciated elephant was left behind.

Though rescuers would have happily taken her, Sao Noi's owners had not given BLES permission to save both elephants, and so they had no choice but to leave her.

But after seeing how well Sontaya was faring in her new home, her owners had a change of heart. And so BLES headed back to the camp to pick up Sao Noi.

"The BLES team has been on the road ALL night and we have at last arrived at the camp and are here with the beautiful Sao Noi!!!" BLES wrote on its Facebook page Tuesday. "She looks well and is curious about us - it will make sense to her soon enough ... "

They walked her through the camp for the last time ...

... to a truck that was waiting to carry her to the sanctuary.

When they are very young, elephants like Sao Noi undergo something called the training crush, so called because it crushes their spirit and forces them into submission. Years before she came to her current camp, she almost certainly would have undergone such abuse.

And her figure makes it clear she hasn't been treated well since then.

She was extremely emaciated ...

... so her rescuers had a meal ready for her.

"She is calm and currently enjoying the mini feast we had prepared for her in the truck," the sanctuary wrote during the rescue.

Her rescuers gave her a coat to keep her skinny body warm on the journey.

"She is all wrapped up in a specially made, water and wind proof gold coat, looking cozy, but weak," BLES wrote.

Sao Noi is currently in transit across Thailand - it's a 30-plus-hour journey from the camp to BLES. Once she arrives, she'll join her friend Sontaya, who is happier than she's ever been:

Here's wishing the same fate for Sao Noi, and a joyful reunion.

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