Workers Say A Heartwarming Goodbye To 60 Year-Old Elephant

Rescuers had to say a difficult goodbye to Fluffy, a 60-year-old Asian elephant. She lived a very hard life, spending the majority of her life hauling logs and carrying tourists on her back. She was finally rescued by Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary (BEES). BEES raised funds to purchase Fluffy and give her freedom so she could live her senior years in peace.

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Fluffy just before she was rescued and brought to live at the sanctuary

They brought her to live at their sanctuary with other rescued elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“It appears Fluffy may never have been allowed to roam freely and forage on her own,” Emily McWilliam, co-founder of BEES, wrote in a blog post shortly after Fluffy’s rescue. “In the camps, Fluffy’s owners were only able to feed her grass and bananas. When she stepped out of her enclosure to explore for the first time she seemed confused. She could smell the grass but hesitated to grab it and break it off to eat.”

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Fluffy enjoying a meal of foliage at the sanctuary

Over the next few months, Fluffy slowly gained confidence while getting used to her new home. She bonded with two other rescued elephants, Mae Kam and Thong Dee.

The volunteers at BEES hoped that Fluffy would enjoy many more years of peace and happiness at the sanctuary, but sadly, it wasn’t to be.

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Fluffy was dealing with an arthritic gait as well as hip problems from her years of hard labor. Eventually, it became too much for the older elephant. In late December, Fluffy collapsed and could not stand up.

The BEES team did everything to help Fluffy, but she passed away.

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“Fluffy worked a long hard life in logging and tourism,” a spokesperson for BEES wrote on Facebook. “She worked far too long and was retired after approximately 60 years of work, [and] her body was tired and damaged as a result.”

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Fluffy’s body adorned with offerings

Fluffy’s time at the sanctuary was short, but the BEES team made sure that she was remembered.

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People give offerings to loved ones who have passed away in Buddhism. So the BEES team surrounded her body with offerings of flowers, leafy plants, bananas, melons and other foods that Fluffy liked to eat.

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Villagers came to pay their respects after Fluffy died.

Villagers paid their respects, prayed and lit incense around Fluffy’s body. In the evening, they covered Fluffy’s body with an orange cloth and lit candles all around her.

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Last September, a 70-year-old elephant named Mae Mor, who’d also been badly abused in the tourism industry in Thailand, passed away after spending a few short months at BEES. Like Fluffy, the team gave her offerings of flowers and bananas after her passing.

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“Every animal deserves love, dignity, good quality care and freedom,” a spokesperson for BEES wrote on Facebook. “Our hearts ache that Fluffy didn’t get longer with us. It was a privilege and a blessing to know her, she taught us so much.”

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