In a heartwarming moment captured on camera, a wild elephant recognizes the veterinarian who treated him 12 years ago.
During an unexpected reunion this month, Plai Thang, a 31-year-old bull, reached out his trunk to touch Doctor Pattarapol Maneeon’s hand.
The elephant was discovered struggling through the woods in Rayong, Thailand, in 2009.
It had trypanosomiasis, a parasitic disease also known as sleeping sickness, which could be fatal.
In a beautiful event captured on camera, a wild elephant recognizes the veterinarian who treated him 12 years ago. During an unexpected reunion this month, Plai Thang, a 31-year-old bull, put out his trunk to touch Doctor Pattarapol Maneeon’s hand (shown).
The elephant was seen struggling in the woods in Rayong, Thailand, in 2009. It was infected with trypanosomiasis, a parasite disease sometimes known as sleeping sickness, which might be lethal.
Doctor Pattarapol arrived to treat the ill jumbo, which had a fever, a loss of appetite, and swelling on its face, neck, and stomach and was ‘near to death.’ Plai Thang also had irritated eyes, tight legs and back, as well as anemia.
Staff from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation were brought to the Forest Industry Organization’s region in Lampang province to rehabilitate the ailing animal.
After healing for several months, he was freed.
Doctor Pattarapol was monitoring the area earlier this month when he said he recognized the elephant’s characteristic call from 12 years ago.
He motioned to Plai Thang, who extended his trunk to welcome Doctor Pattarapol, establishing contact with a human for the first time in more than a decade. Plai Thang, the vet is convinced, recognized him.
Doctor Pattarapol added, ‘I recall the sound quite vividly.’ ‘Plai Thang’s noise is one-of-a-kind.’ When we first met, Plai Thang was abrasive. He couldn’t fight other elephants since his body was weak. It took a long time for him to recover, but we discovered that he was incredibly intelligent and self-sufficient.
‘We reconnected recently. We recognized each other and exchanged greetings. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Doctor Pattarapol remarked, “I hope it inspires everyone to recognize the work that individuals do with elephants.”
Thailand’s national animal is the elephant, which is said to number between 3,000 and 4,000 in the country. At least half of this number is domesticated, with the rest living in the wild.