CHONG KO March 7th 2009 May she rest in peace
Goodbye Chong Ko
I received an e-mail from Ewa and Michelle on Tuesday telling me Chong Ko had died on Saturday. As I write the tears still come all too easily. I first met her in December 2007 and she was my first and only elephant at the kraal. I went away for a few days after a week with her, missed her too much and came back for another week. Back again in November last on the way back to Oz from the UK and I booked 3 days that turned into 8 because of the airport occupation. This beautiful lady was my friend and one of the great experiences of my life. I can't think of her without feeling regret at her passing. She was an individual, didn't like the washing area and didn't approve of being led by her ear to her breakfast spot. Twice that ear connected with the back of my head. For all that there was a companionable stillness about her, a nobility you recognised as soon as you met her. They're all wonderful but Chong Ko was special to me in a way no animal has ever been before. Riding her, swimming with her, feeding her bananas and pineapples it seems like I can remember every minute we spent together and I'm so glad I was able to see her once more. For anyone who knew her and had her as their elephant when at the kraal please spare a thought for her. I have photos of her all over my desk at work and just this evening I was looking at all the photos again. Goodbye lovely lady.
LOONG LUEN July 2007 May she rest in peace
It is with great sadness in our hearts that we have to inform you of the loss of one of our family. Loong Luen, aged 65, passed away at 2pm on the 9th July 2007.
Loong Luen had struggled over the last month as she was slowing down with soreness in her legs and had problems with her digestion.
We were doing physiotherapy with her massaging her legs with liniment and taking her swimming twice a day and there seemed to be some improvement. But unfortunately towards the end she was very tired and not sleeping well. On the morning of the 7th July Loong Luen was struggling to walk from her night spot to her day area. That day she spent time eating and resting and later in the day some groups of tourists were taking the opportunity to take photos with her. In her good nature Loong Luen posed calmly for the photos. That evening we had to interrupt one of these photo sessions to move her to a night spot by the river under some nice big trees. Our hope was she would lean on the trees that night and get some sleep. Early the next morning I went to see her and take her some treats. When I arrived she greeted me and ate her treats. She had been able to get some sleep during the night, but her legs were still sore and tired. I checked on her during the day and she was enjoying the shadow of the trees. At 1.45pm we went to see her and she was in a sitting position, unable to get up. We encouraged her to stand, but she did not get up. We called for more people to help. We all tried to help her, calling her, pushing her, willing her to stand. A truck was brought to help pull her up, but it too was unsuccessful. Eventually the back hoe arrived and we tried again. The back hoe lifted her but she was unable to hold her own weight. It then started to rain very heavily, which made it more difficult for Loong Luen as the ground became slippery. Loong Luen was exhausted as already 4-5 hours had passed. Pi Om lit some incense and we said a prayer for her. We prayed that if there was an opportunity for Loong Luen stay with us to please let that happen, but if she ready to to go, that she would go to heaven. The back hoe and truck left as did a lot of the people, who went to attend to their elephants.
Soon after Loong Luen went from a sitting to lying position, but she did not sleep. We thought then it would not be long in this world for her. I left to go and check on Dok Mak and Loong Sap and on my return Loong Luen was still lying down.
Ewa and myself were standing with her stroking her to sleep, which she eventually did. After about an hour at 9pm she awoke and was moving around half sitting up. I went over to her and said lie down and sleep or stand up. She then proceeded to stand up and she was standing there holding her own weight. We were all filled with such joy. Ewa rang Pi Om and he came racing over, everyone was so excited. She started to eat some food and we offered her water. All the medication had started to kick in. We and a group of mahouts stayed the night with her. In the morning Loong Luen was still standing and she ate a bit of food but she was still very tired. Eventually she gave up the fight in the afternoon.
We moved Loong Luens body into the Kraal and the back hoe made a huge deep hole for her to be buried in amongst the warrior elephant statues. Four monks came and performed a ceremony for her burial. After she had been lowered into the grave, red and gold robes were placed over her and watermelon, bananas, and sugarcane was placed around her mouth and trunk so she would have sustenance for her journey from this earth. Everyone threw handfuls of soil over her and the back hoe finished the job. Most people then left. Ewa, Kik, Oom(Kiks 5 year old daughter), Paan and Naret and myself stayed watching the back hoe fill the hole. We all sat in silence watching the machine work. At 3.30pm the kids started coming home through the Kraal as school had finished. They came over to say hello, but there was shock and sadness on their faces as they could see we were all sad and watching the backhoe. Oom, being 5 took it upon herself to inform all the children an elephant has died an elephant has died.
Loong Luen brought a lot of joy to a lot of people and she will stay in the hearts of you all forever we are sure of that. Her death reinforces how important the Elephantstay program is. Giving people an opportunity to help the old elephants retire and have a good life and extend their twilight years. So thank you to all of you who have come and intend to come for your love and support of our old elephants
Michelle and Ewa.