Moving to a new place and making new friends isn't easy, regardless of your species. Even elephants, those deeply social and empathetic creatures, sometimes need an adjustment period when they encounter a new living space.
Unless you're Ploy Thong and Faa Mai, apparently, and then you just seem to hit it off from the start.
Ploy Thong, blind in both eyes, once worked as a tourist transport elephant in Thailand. She was saddled in the early morning and walking along paths until sunset, finding her way around by sniffing the ground with her trunk.
She was spotted by the Save Elephant Foundation when members were on a journey to rescue a different elephant. That didn't stop them from beginning the process of freeing Ploy Thong, however.
"We saw her working while on the journey to rescue Bua Keaw, and began discussion with the owner to set her free," the foundation wrote in tjhe description for the video below.
Once Ploy Thong's release was secured, volunteers began the process of preparing a truck to transport her to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Ploy Thong was, understandably, "a little apprehensive" about getting on the truck, Cheryl Hildebrand, a volunteer with the foundation, says in the video.
The transport process, however, went relatively smoothly after that. Water and food were available to Ploy Thong for the entire journey, and scenes of her lifting her trunk to take in new smells and get a sense of the surroundings will warm your heart. It's a whole new world for her; she deserves to take it all in the only way she can.
A new home
The Save Elephant Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides "care and assistance to Thailand's captive elephant population" by interacting with the community, rescuing and rehabilitating elephants and raising awareness of ecotourism.
The Elephant Nature Park (ENP) is home to around 35 elephants. Tourists can visit the elephants, and even feed and bath them. Elephants cannot be ridden and do not perform for the tourists. In short, it's a safe haven for elephants that have been displaced by habitat loss or, like Ploy Thong, used by the tourism industry.
After Ploy Thong arrived at the ENP, she announced herself, letting out a series of low vocalizations. The calls attracted the attention of other elephants who came over to greet her.
As the video above shows, Ploy Thong walked around the area she's in, greeting new elephants with her trunk, sniffing and wrapping her trunk around theirs. It's a big moment for Ploy Thong and for the other elephants, and one that goes off without a hitch. The elephants all seemed eager to welcome Ploy Thong to the park and make her feel at home.
And a new friend
According to a Facebook post, Ploy Thong wasted no time trying to make friends. Most elephants need that period of adjustment, but perhaps because she's blind, Ploy Thong "rumbled and trumpeted calling out for a friend."
One elephant in particular was ready to answer that call, and that was Faa Mai. Faa Mai is a senior at the park, and she spent the most time getting to know Ploy Thong. Even after the other elephants had left, she stayed with the new girl.
"I think because she is blind and wants to thrive and not just survive," a member of the foundation wrote in the Facebook post, "she immediately sought for a friend to be her eyes as soon as possible."
Indeed, Faa Mai seemed happy to give Ploy Thong a tour of the park, as you can see in the video below.
Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful friendship between Ploy Thong and Faa Mai, and one that leads to Ploy Thong being fully accepted by Faa Mai's herd.