Proof That All Elephants Go To Heaven
This is the way an elephant's life should end.
Not with a bang, but with blessings.
And Somai, a stately behemoth who drew visitors from around the world, received a bounty of those when he was laid to rest this week.
His funeral at Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Thailand drew some 40 people, with monks offering blessings and draping his 68-year-old body with flowers.
"Our founding elephant, our survivor, our hero," Katherine Connor, BLES founder, wrote on the sanctuary's blog.
He died, she explained, "surrounded by thick bushes, huge trees and.. and fresh water."
"Judging on the position of his body, we believe Somai had been lying down, sleeping," she wrote. "We think he stood up, but lost his footing and his legs gave way from underneath him. This resulted with him landing on his face and chest."
It was a fitting tribute for the mighty elephant who spent the last 12 years of his life at BLES - and who also happened to be the sanctuary's first arrival when it opened its gates.
But before those halcyon days at the 540-acre reserve studded with forests and ponds and rolling hills, Somai's life was seared by tragedy.
For decades, he had been a working elephant, although, according to BLES, he was beloved among the villagers who used him at a sustainable logging camp.
Villagers thought they had lost Somai when a forest fire devoured much of the development. But he was discovered the next morning, alive.
He had spent the night in incomprehensible agony, hot ash burning much of his body. Even his great floppy ears were no more, having been reduced to scorched strips.
But Somai would live. And sympathetic villagers decided he would do so at BLES.
And so, for 12 years, he trumpeted and stomped and bugled blithely through the sanctuary's sprawling lands.
He also found love.
"The two main joy's in his life were females and food," Connor noted in the blog. "It was always Pang Tong, the mother of Boon Lott, who had his heart."