AN elephant in Thailand won’t be forgetting a Vale family anytime soon after they rescued her following a lifetime of neglect.
The Blaine family, of Peopleton, near Pershore, have dedicated a lot of time to working with elephants in Thailand, even selling goods in their shop, Mahouts – which means elephant keeper – to support the animals.
Worcester GP Felix Blaine, his wife Sarah and children Joe, aged 12, and Natasha, nine, first fell for the elephants when they spent a week at the BLES sanctuary in northern Thailand.
On their latest visit the family came across Somsri – a dangerously thin 70-year-old elephant – and are now awaiting her move to the sanctuary in Sukhothai.
Mrs Blaine, who runs Mahouts – a Fairtrade registered shop in Pershore’s High Street, said: “While we were over there as a family we got involved in our first elephant rescue.
“We source a lot of our goods from family businesses in Thai-land and mahouts with some of the money for certain goods going straight back to the people in Thailand.
“We came across Somsri, which means gentle lady, while visiting one of the mahouts who produces keyrings for us.
“We walked a different route and she was there. She has been working all her life. She had been a street begging elephant and she was treated very badly and had lots of wounds. Somsri’s current owners were being very kind to her, but they didn’t really know what to do to get her better.”
The Blaine family launched a fund-raisisng appeal to get Somsri to the sanctuary, including posting on Facebook.
“We had to pay the people who had her as they had got into debt purchasing her and she couldn’t work,” said Mrs Blaine.
“Within two days of the appeal being online we had raised the £4,000 we needed.
“We are now going to keep fund-raising as she will need ongoing medical care. The sanctuary is beautiful and she can do what she wants there and learn to be an elephant again.
“This is the first elephant we have rescued. Eventually we would like to have a foundation to help the elephants and the mahouts and their children.”
To help support Somsri, visit mahouts.co.uk or blesele.org.