Wild Elephant In Thailand Recognizes Vet Who Saved His Life 12 Years Ago

Elephants never forget – especially not the person who rescued them.

Plai Thang, a 31-year-old bull elephant in Thailand, shared a heartwarming reunion with the vet who saved his life 12 years ago.

Plai Thang was on the brink of death in 2009 after he contracted trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), a disease transmitted by biting insects and fatal if not treated.

The elephant was suffering from a fever, loss of appetite, and swelling all over his face and neck. He was found struggling to move, as his legs and back were stiff, in Rayong, Thailand.

He was transported to Forest Industry Organization’s territory where Doctor Pattarapol Maneeon with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation treated him.

“Plai Thang was very aggressive when we first met. His body was weak and he could not fight other elephants. It took a long time for him to heal, but we learned that he was very smart and took care of himself,” recalled Pattarapol.

After months of recovery, the elephant was released back into the wild and the vet thought he would never see him again.

But during a recent patrol of the area, Pattarapol recognized a sound he hadn’t heard in over a decade.

The unique sound was Plai Thang.

Apparently, elephants aren’t the only ones with great memories.

The elephant recognized his rescuer as well and stretched out his trunk to greet him. Elephants greet each other by intertwining their trunks. The sweet gesture by the elephant was his way of saying “hello” to an old friend.

The touching moment was captured in a photo which has gone viral.

“I remember the sound very clearly,” Pattarapol said. “Recently, we met again. We could remember each other and we greeted. It was a very special moment.”

Elephants are incredible animals. They have the largest brain of any land mammal, which weighs between 8-12 pounds – nearly three times the weight of a human brain. They use their superb memory to not only recognize those they have encountered before, but also to protect the herd.

Their memory only improves over time and scientists believe they are as smart as dolphins.

Pattarapol hopes his special bond with Plai Thang “encourages everybody to appreciate the work that people do with elephants.”

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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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