Elephant Forced To Give Rides Has No Idea He's Being Rescued — Again

He was so happy to see old friends that he lifted his trunk and started "purring."

Nwon thought he'd finally escaped the logging industry - until his owner took him back.

The elephant, who is roughly 60 years old or older, had only been leased to Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Sukhothai, Thailand, where he rubbed trunks with new friends who had also just been rescued from the industry. Nwon's owner wanted to let Nwon retire because he could not afford to keep him - but he still technically owned him.

Then, one day in elephant paradise, Nwon was loaded onto a truck again and driven away. A new opportunity presented itself to Nwon's owner, and the elderly Nwon was to experience a whole new kind of exploitation.

He went to a camp in Surin where he was forced to give rides to tourists.

"Right now, as I type this post, Nwon has a chair strapped to his back and he is being forced to carry tourists around," BLES wrote. "Nwon is without question, confused, frightened and stressed."

For weeks, he lived his old, sad life, working all day in the sun. Little did he know, rescuers were rallying to get him back. The people at BLES started a fundraising campaign to buy Nwon's freedom for good.

Finally, they raised $24,000 from over 600 donations - and Nwon's freedom was won.

This week, rescuers drove up to the trekking camp to take Nwon away.

"I can not tell you how excited we are to be bringing our boy home," BLES wrote on its Facebook page, "thank you so much to every single person who played a part in making this happen."

Rescuers drove all night to bring Nwon back where he belongs.

"Nwon has remained calm throughout the journey and we are very nearly home now," BLES wrote in an update on Tuesday.

He even seemed a little excited as the dawn broke and the truck came closer. He lifted his trunk to smell the air.

"As we drove up the road towards BLES, Nwon lifted his trunk as high as the rising morning sun," BLES wrote. "[H]e was smelling the air and purring, as if he knew he was home."

Finally the truck stopped at its destination.

People opened up the gates of the truck and unchained Nwon for a second time.

Nwon had old friends to visit.

He seemed eager to see them. So his devoted caretaker walked Nwon over to the elephants he'd missed for the last, difficult few weeks.

And Nwon's friends seemed pretty happy to see him, too.

Welcome home, Nwon.