Elderly Elephant Honored After She Dies From A Life Of Giving Rides

"I sat with her, stroking her and told her over and over how very loved she was."

After living the best month of her whole life, a "very special, but very sad" elephant passed away on Wednesday.

Sao Noi, who was in her 60s, was rescued last month from a camp in Thailand where she was forced to give rides to tourists for years.

She was brought to Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), where she quickly bonded with new friends, despite her old age. Most of all, she discovered she loved being in the forest.

But Sao Noi soon fell ill.

Her skeletal body was just too weak after so many years of use.

Sao Noi's new friend, Boon Thong, stayed beside her after she collapsed.

When Sao Noi's body finally succumbed, she was surrounded by love.

"With her eyes closed, she let out a deep and long purr," BLES wrote in a blog post about the loss of Sao Noi. "I sat with her, stroking her and told her over and over how very loved she was. I closed my eyes and listened to everything she was listening to."

Sao Noi was buried in the forest, which she loved so much. The grave that cradled her exhausted body was filled with fruit and flowers.

Monks came and blessed her body.

"Sometimes, when we watch our fragile new arrivals take their first few shaky steps of freedom, we burst with pride for them," the blog said. "Yet, at the same time we share a silent sadness, because we all know that despite our tireless efforts, expert care and endless amounts of love, these beautiful old and oh so wise souls, will not be with us for very long."

Sao Noi is "no longer trapped in this life that wore down her body and broke her spirit," BLES wrote. But she'll be sorely missed.

Every day, elephants like Sao Noi are forced to work in tourist camps - but BLES works hard to help a special few escape. To support BLES in its mission to save elephants, you can donate here.