In January 2007, Kristal rang in the new year in Thailand. She had traveled there to meet and work with Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation and the Elephant Nature Park. Kristal was part of a group called The Power of One Program, organized by Juelle and Donovan Wilkins. Their vision was to teach young kids that they have the power to make a difference in the world. It was an incredible experience to be with American and Thai youth as they learned about each other’s cultures and values. At the same time, they learned about elephants – their magnificence, beauty, and sadly, how much they suffer in a culture where they are domesticated.

Lek has rescued more than 200 elephants. They all have horrendous stories to tell. Many of them have scares from the beatings and dagger wounds. When she was 5 years old, Lek’s family was given an elephant. So she has grown up with elephants, knows them intimately and is totally committed to protecting them from the horrendous torture of the “pajaan”, the Crushing Box. She is trying to teach the Thai mahouts (people who own elephants) that they can use love and kindness to train elephants.

The Crushing Box is a centuries old “training” method that breaks the spirit of elephants. It is used throughout Asia and some parts of Africa. It is so cruel and painful that 40% of the elephants die from it. Another 40% go crazy. Some will even commit suicide by stepping on their trunk (to suffocate themselves) or jumping over a cliff. When people ride elephants or watch them perform, they unknowingly participate in the cruelty done to elephants.

View from my hut

Going on a stroll with an elephant. What a thrill!

The Crushing Box

This video contains disturbing images of animal abuse. Viewer discretion is advised.

Feeding bananas to an elephant, which they eat whole!