Saengduean "Lek" Chailert is an animal rights advocator and entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Thailand. She is known as Thailand's “Elephant Whisperer”. She has dedicated her life to fighting for animal rights and putting an end to animal abuse.
Chailert has devoted her life to the conservation of this endangered species. Since 1996, she has rescued 200 distressed elephants in Thailand and neighboring countries. She has received widespread recognition for her work protecting elephants, including being honored as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation in 2010 by Secretary of
State, Hillary Clinton; one of TIME Magazine’s Heroes of Asia in 2005; the Ford Foundation’s Hero of the Planet in 2001, and with the Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States in 2003 and 2019.
May 4, 2023 - "Every time that I have the privilege of rescuing an elephant, I will sit beside them on the journey to comfort them. At this time, I am thinking of Lucy. She is on my mind quite often, with a wistful longing for her freedom. Over the years I have helped elephants time and time again, each one in their turn released to a better life. Yet Lucy remains.
People will argue that she can't be moved for health reasons; that she has passed that age barrier where a translocation would be a dire risk; that the journey to sanctuary would be too long.
From the moment I began to help elephants from 1990 to present, we have been involved with the rescue of more than 200 elephants, some journeys being as long as 50 hours, and transporting elephants in both frail and critical condition, and far older than Lucy. I think that is sufficient experience to know the risks involved in transport. The greatest threat to her well-being resides in the entrenched hearts of those unwilling to set her free from her prison walls.
Lucy's best outcome requires an open mind, unfettered by the economic concerns of her current residency. It is as simple as being compassionate and kind.
Age and health issues are not the obstacles that should keep her from the home that she deserves. If we are sincere enough to give her back her birthright and the opportunity avails itself to proffer a happy retirement, then what are the true stumbling blocks to her freedom? If Sopa, our latest rescue of just 3 days ago, has the willfulness and energy to travel and arrive safely at her destination, then why not Lucy? Why wouldn't we give Lucy that opportunity for freedom?"
Dr. Trish London exams Lucy at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, October 2022
Trish London began working with elephants 24 years ago as the first intern at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. She continued to volunteer at the Sanctuary every summer throughout college and went to the University of Georgia Veterinary School to pursue her dream of becoming an elephant doctor.
In 2016 Trish traveled to Nepal for the first time and was reintroduced to the situation faced by elephants and their mahouts across Asia. This changed the course of her life and career. She channeled all of her time, effort and commitment into working in elephant conservation and begun what she coined as her personal ‘Elephant Odyssey’.
For the past 6 years she has been on an elephant odyssey traveling and working at a variety of elephant facilities and with elephant veterinarians throughout SE Asia in Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
In November of 2019 Trish was invited to become the consulting veterinarian with Global Sanctuary for Elephants in Brazil and is the veterinarian assisting with transport of elephants from zoo to sanctuary.
Trish founded Asian Elephant Wellness Project a US-based 501(c)(3) in 2020. The Asian Elephant Wellness Project was established to create collaborations between organizations and facilities that work with Asian Elephants.
Dr. TRISH LONDON, DVM, CVA
OCTOBER 2022 - "It is my opinion that it is possible to move Lucy and I do believe she should be moved for her health and welfare. The above listed health issues do not prevent her from being transported to a different, more appropriate environment. I witnessed no evidence of respiratory distress during any part of our exams and/or testing or walking around the zoo with her. In an ideal situation, the Edmonton Valley Zoo management and staff would be working collaboratively with others who also bring extensive expertise, acquired knowledge and hands-on experience to the discussion in an effort to realize the best possible outcome for Lucy's physical and mental well-being – providing her with an environment that gave her the space and choice to live and thrive as an elephant. Collectively, we have the ability, and the responsibility, to ensure that her remaining years (that could easily be 15+) are well-lived as an elephant should with autonomy, room to roam and with others in her species. Lucy was born in the wild and although she is a captive wild elephant, she was born to experience life as an elephant and could do so if given the space and time.
Both the temperature and the decreased amount of sunlight in Edmonton creates an inhospitable and cruel environment for an Asian elephant. The forced walks on the snow and ice in -15C weather, borders on absurd. There is simply no way to provide Lucy with an appropriate life or the life she deserves in Edmonton. It needs to be clear that her life at the Edmonton Valley Zoo and those unwilling to relocate Lucy or even make the previously suggested changes, own responsibility in what will be her probable early death. The decision to keep her in Canada, in such an unnatural environment, while also not providing her with adequate housing conditions that would meet at least her minimal mental and physical needs is what has created the impoverished scenario Lucy now finds herself in. Lucy deserves the chance to live a more natural life of an elephant. A life where she can walk around on her own and decide where she wants to go, when she wants to go, if she wants to stay in one spot grazing, or wants to keep walking and exploring. A life where she decides if she wants to lie down in the middle of the day and take a nap in the sun or under the moon and stars. If she wants to eat that tree bark now and that tree leaf later in the spring or if she wants to swim in the pond or not. And go to the bathroom whenever and
wherever she wants. All choices that may seem ‘small’ but define who she is as an individual. If Lucy's caretakers and zoo management wanted to move Lucy, I believe it could be done on a schedule to ensure Lucy's comfort and safety. I say this because to move Lucy with the least amount of stress, I do feel her current caretakers should be, and would need to be involved to help get Lucy used to the transport container, vehicle, and the entire process. Further, I would recommend that key caretakers accompany her on the move and remain at the new location until she is settled (or longer, if agreeable). Based on my observations of Lucy during the evaluation period, she is a very curious and calm elephant and I think she would be open to a new adventure, especially if her caretakers were excited and encouraging."
Ingo Schmidinger exams Lucy at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, October 2022
Co-founder of iSCAPES
International Species Conservation and Animal Protection Expert Service
Ingo started as a trained animal caregiver and caregiver trainer, who focuses on improving animal husbandry conditions within any kind of captive environment since nearly three decades. Due to his broad background and the experience he gathered by working for numerous zoos, sanctuaries, conservation- and animal welfare organisations, including the collaboration with governmental authorities, he is also active in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in need around the world.
MAY 2023 - "Since my evaluation, no substantial development can be observed in terms of fulfilling any of the basic physiological and psychological requirements. Little steps, such as potential weight loss or certain medical treatments, is by far not enough to truly meet an elephant's essential needs and to ensure Lucy's overall welfare.
While time is running, and regarding the unvarying development, as well as the overwhelming requirements for improving Lucy's husbandry conditions at her current location, there is obviously only one appropriate decision left where we don't have to balance pros and cons. It's as simple as moving her to an appropriate place, such as a warm climate sanctuary - as soon as possible.
And again: yes, she can be moved free of stress if planned properly. And yes, she's able to adapt to a new environment as well as to new caregivers. And again yes, she has all the abilities to socialize with other elephants. And as dramatic as it might sound - no, elephant caregivers are not part of the family of any elephant."
Ingo helped transport mother and daughter elephants, Pocha and Guillermina from the Mendoza Zoo to the Global Sanctuary for
Elephants in Brazil in 2021
Born in Ontario, Canada, Darrick has lived in Thailand for many years now. Darrick is the co-founder of Save Elephant foundation along with his wife, Saengduean Lek Chailert and can often be found loving up the elephants at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Darrick was instrumental in the rescue and transportation of Kaavan from the Islamabad Zoo in Pakistan to Cambodia and the building of Kaavan's huge enclosure at the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.
JANUARY 2021 - "If it is said by zoo medical professionals that Lucy is too sick and unable to be transported anywhere, I would suggest that an independent examination be required, as I have transported many elephants, in far worse condition, only to see their lives blossom in our park. It is time to give Lucy the opportunity to walk wherever she should choose, and with whomever she should fancy as her friend. It is the right thing to do, to send Lucy to sanctuary. When we liberate others, we find both strength and hope also for ourselves."
Scott Blais and Guida, Global Sanctuary for Elephants, Brazil
CEO and Board Prisident of Global Sanctuary for Elephants in Brazil. Scott carries a lifetime of experience, working both with and for captive elephants for over 30 years. He is a leading expert in natural habitat elephant sanctuary development and operation, and the co-founder of two elephant sanctuaries: the largest one in North America (The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee) and the first and only sanctuary in South America (Elephant Sanctuary Brazil). Utilizing his strong aptitude for design and construction, complemented by his knowledge and comprehension of the physical and emotional needs of captive elephants, Scott has pioneered progressive elephant captive care for emotionally and physically abused elephants desperately in need of a second chance. His ground-breaking work as an international consultant for captive elephant health and welfare has served to transform how the world views the lives of captive elephants by providing vital insight to promote healthier alternatives for ailing elephants. Scott’s provable record is a testament to the fact that elephants can recover from the harsh traumas of captivity if given respect, space, compassionate care, and the companionship of other elephants that so many have never known.
MAY 2017 - "Lucy deserves a second chance. She has spent her entire life in servitude to humans, limited by the sterility and confinement of captivity. Through her relocation to an expansive sanctuary, living amongst others of her own kind, she will be granted an opportunity to recover and thrive, transforming into the dynamic social being she was always meant to be. You can help, give Lucy an opportunity to remember what it is to truly be an elephant. The life all elephants deserve, the life all elephants need."
JUNE 2018 ON PELUSA WHO DIED IN CAPTIVITY BEFORE SHE COULD GET
TO SANCTUARY: “Pelusa epitomizes everything that is wrong with captivity and ultimately it’s because of human desire. We’re the ones that want to be close to elephants. We want to see animals in a zoo because they’re beautiful and amazing. We want to touch them, feed them. That selfish desire that we have is what causes situations like this. And it’s not just elephants. Many animals suffer in captivity. It’s impossible to do justice by them in these confined spaces.”
Joyce spent most of her childhood and young adulthood in Kenya. She has studied African elephants since 1975, beginning her career working with Cynthia Moss in Amboseli. Her honors thesis at Smith College in 1979 and her PhD thesis from Cambridge University in 1982 both focused on the sexual and aggressive phenomenon of musth in male elephants. She went on to study elephant vocal communication and in 1985 with Katy Payne discovered that African elephants communicate using sounds below the level of human hearing. Through the 1980s, she continued work on aspects of musth and elephant communication while was a research fellow of Princeton University. Between 1990 and 1994 she headed the elephant program at the Kenya Wildlife Service where she was responsible for elephant conservation and management throughout the country. After leaving KWS Joyce returned to her studies of elephant communication this time focusing on the vocal repertoire of African elephants. She is now director of ElephantVoices, a major ATE collaborative project. Joyce lives in Norway with husband Petter and daughter Selengei.
DR. JOYCE POOLE
DECEMBER 2009 - "Based on her daily log for 2008, Lucy spent some 7.5% of her time on walks under the control of keepers carrying bullhooks, also known as ankuses. While I have no reason to doubt the intentions of her keepers, and while the exercise is good for her, having spent several hours observing Lucy, I can say that these walks offer her no autonomy whatsoever. Every movement of hers is controlled. This causes her privation and suffering."
"Due to the cold and to keepers’ schedules, the vast majority of Lucy’s life has been spent inside her small barn. On at least 25 days of the year, the daily log or maximum temperatures indicate that Lucy did not go out of the barn at all. The result is that Lucy has spent much of her life standing on concrete in a small barn and doing very little of what an elephant needs do to maintain good physical health and mental well being. The consequence is that she is a young elephant in an old body. This causes her real privation and suffering."
"Lucy has been and is now deprived of a normal elephant life, which at its very essence should include some semblance of autonomy and the freedom to roam. It is my conclusion, therefore, that she has lacked, and continues to lack, the basic necessities and comforts of life, and that her poor health is a condition resulting from this lack. I have no reservations in concluding that she is currently subjected to undue hardship, privation and neglect. Nor do I have any reservations in concluding that Lucy is in distress as a result of the fact that she is, and has been, suffering and subjected to undue hardship, privation and neglect for many years."
"With all the deprivation and suffering that Lucy has already endured in her life, the last thing I would do is recommend a move if I thought it would be detrimental to her physical or psychological well-being. With all I know about elephants generally, about Lucy in particular, and about the experience of other former zoo and circus elephants who suffered similar problems to Lucy before being successfully integrated among their own kind at a sanctuary, I am confident in my expectation that Lucy would be positively transformed if she were permitted to live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary with other elephants."