A Lesson in Patience – The Rescue of Permpoon

We first met Permpoon back in June 2015. She was thin and clearly exhausted from the six decades of forced labour she had endured…


Permpoon is blind in one eye and her skin is dull, dry and punctured in multiple places. Her physical scars are proof of her hard and abusive history, but it is the invisible wounds that pain Permpoon the most. The bruises in her heart, the trauma in her mind, the agonising memories of constant beatings and gruelling days of tourists climbing on to her back and sitting in heavy benches precariously balanced on her protruding spine – these are the scars that are hidden within her and the ones that can take a life time to heal….


Permpoon’s story is not all doom and gloom. Her most recent owners found her working in a camp in the south of Thailand and took pity on her. They purchased her, with a plan to fatten her up, get her strong and then put her to work, but after several months, they realised she was just too old and too tired to ever be worked again. They wanted to ensure Permpoon was taken care of and so reached out to BLES.

BLES has been rescuing elephants for almost ten years now and we have been able to maintain an immaculate reputation as well as positive and open relationships with almost every single person we have dealt with over the years. We are now getting contacted regularly by elephant owners who are elderly and want to retire not just themselves, but their elephants too. The owners turn to us, because they know they can trust us.


There have been several complications in the rescue of Permpoon and many of these I was not able to publicly discuss at the time, as it could have jeopardised the entire operation.

Many of you will remember Permpoon’s ‘Dress Rehearsal’ – the day we all traveled to Chiang Mai to collect her and bring her home to BLES. Despite the fact that all of Permpoon’s documentation was in order, the travel documents were complete and had already been approved a day earlier, we were told we could not travel with Permpoon. We were given no other option than to turn back, with Permpoon already loaded in to the truck and return her to the camp. The reason? The official wanted to “double check” all her papers.


We were all crushed to be returning to BLES without Permpoon. Days turned in to weeks and then weeks in to months… None of us could understand the hold up, as we all knew the paperwork was in order. It didn’t make sense…

Trusted friends and faithful supporters, I can now reveal that the officials were being bribed by another facility that did not want BLES to rescue Permpoon. We will not share the identity of this organisation, as we have much more integrity than that. But, we do know who it was and we want to express how deeply upsetting it has been. Not just to us, but to all of you, who donated in good faith towards the urgent rescue of this delicate elephant – who really, at the end of the day, was the biggest victim in all of this unnecessary bureaucracy and pointless drama.

On top of dealing with the stresses these complications have entailed, there has been an individual spreading hateful lies around the internet about me, my family, my staff and my life’s work – BLES. These fabrications have been near soul destroying for my family and I… This person has tried to smear their evil, made up notions all over the internet, contacting BLES supporters privately and trying to shock them in to withdrawing their faith in our work. This person has also posted publicly. Most recently stating that we have not rescued the real Permpoon – we did an elephant swap!!!

This person’s poison has included accusations of the most personal things you can imagine. They have threatened to slander our name in the British tabloids and have even hinted at interfering with my visa status here in Thailand. The allegations are unfounded and untrue and we are amazed at how this person has twisted every word and shamelessly slandered BLES and everything we represent. How can we even begin to comprehend such nastiness? We think this person started getting frustrated with the hold ups surrounding Permpoon and decided to voice their upset in the most distasteful manner imaginable. We also believe this person was involved with the organisation who was bribing the officials against us and that they were feeding this person’s overactive imagination with falsified information.

It has been a highly disturbing and difficult time and having to put up with this harassment has been utterly draining. However, we have been so inspired by the love and support we have received from the people this person has contacted. Thankfully, as the allegations this person has thrown out have been so laughable, it has brought BLES and our dedicated supporters even closer than before and we are now stronger than ever. BLES stands united in our passion for a loving world and believe we are all interconnected: When you deliberately hurt another person with such rage and compulsion, you are in turn hurting the animals.

Luckily, we are made of strong stuff and I, for one, will not let this person’s tantrums and negativity trouble me any longer.  As I sit here working on this blog, I smile and think of the wise words from Mahatma Ghandi, “I will not let your anger consume me”.


Permpoon has been with us at BLES for one week now. She is taking things very slowly and we are allowing her all the time and space she needs. Her resistance to trust in us proves she has been abused for years on end and we are all very troubled to witness her fear. We know that Permpoon will eventually come to the realisation that we only want to love and take care of her. She will soon understand that we want nothing from her and that in our eyes, she can do no wrong…

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I have already learnt so much from Permpoon. She has taught us the true meaning of perserverence and patience. Many people thought we would walk away from her rescue, but we remained focussed and determined. We refused to let corruption win and stayed true to our morals. It may have taken us a long time to bring Permpoon home to BLES, but despite the fact we had so much working against us, we did it!!!

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I can not thank you enough for all your messages of faith, love and hope. We would never have been able to reach out and rescue Permpoon without your unconditional support and I want to congratulate each and every one of you – Patience is a form of action and is the acceptance that things can happen in a different order from the one you had in mind.


Permpoon is now and forever safe in our loving arms. It may have taken longer than predicted to get her here, but none of that matters anymore. All that is important is the here and now and the fact that Permpoon is forever safe.

Thank you for making her rescue possible!



  1. Peggy Baayen · October 29, 2015

    So very happy you persevered and I’m sure your love will win her lover

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary-Ellen Lang · October 29, 2015

    Sounds like you have been attacked by a sociopath, whose criminal slanders have failed. Still, such devastating abuse is traumatic, and affects its victims deeply. I hope you can trust that the attack has failed, Instead, it has made you and the bond you have with your supporters much stronger. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JA Malone · October 29, 2015

    This is a hugely disturbing read if the organization you refer to is the one I think it is. I cannot understand why there is competition and malice versus cooperation and mutual respect among the few very few true sanctuaries in Thailand. Glad to know this lovely old soul is with you now and will come soon to appreciate just where she is, how her closing chapters in long hard story will be so sweet. Thank you BLES, never ever doubt our confidence in your integrity.

    Liked by 3 people

    • diane mcdonnell · October 30, 2015

      Any way to hint at what organization you are referring to. I’d hate to think it might be another sanctuary that is on my ‘good’ list, i.e, ENP


  4. Ruth Ashby · October 29, 2015

    What a heartrending story, so sorry they tried to besmirch BLES so unfairly !! I hope Permpoon soon settles into her new forever home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wanda · October 29, 2015

    Thank you for your perseverance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary and Robert Saunders · October 30, 2015

    I feel so very sorry for you dealing with all that when your heart was aching for Naamfon. I haven’t met you yet that is going to be my highlight for next year. You sound so genuine and I am truly in awe of all the work you do and love for our fellow creatures who can’t speak for themselves. Long may Permpoon retire in your care.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maria Teresa Mauri · October 30, 2015

    Permpoon is home, that’s all that matters and although it’s been so very tough for you all to go through the trials and tribulations of this rescue, the fact that you persevered and stayed true to your goal in this mission says all there needs to be said. I hope and wish Permpoon a very speedy healing of body and spirit and cant wait to see photos and videos of her enjoying life in her new home…her “ele heaven” where she will thrive with so much love.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amanda · October 30, 2015

    You say you have learned so much from Permpoon but I have learned so much from you:)
    Huge respect and deep gratitude!!!


  9. Linda Goodwin · October 30, 2015

    Permpoon! She’s so FLUFFY! I love her ear tufts and leg fur!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sally Hawes · October 30, 2015

    Great blog Katherine,nicely put!! Cant wait to see her fall in love with you all and become the loving trusting Elephant she is. x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ruth Halyk · October 30, 2015

    Kathrine, I am so sorry to hear some would dare udder such horrible untruths about you , your lovely family and your BLES family. It is heart breaking to think such people have nothing better to do . As for the other group bribing the Government , that is just shameful as i believe i know who that is . sad so sad as you both work for the love and welfare of the elephants . I am so happy the outcome fro permpoon has been one of love and success . Looking forward to watching her grow to be a big part of the Bles family. Well done . Big hugs .to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Diane Hodgkinson · October 30, 2015

    Faith , Hope, Love….of all of these Love is the strongest…
    Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. tonya · October 30, 2015

    Thank you for your perseverance.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hilary Kelly · October 30, 2015

    Sadly in this world there is such badness. You have done really well to keep goig under such pressure. But you did. And now have another lovely Ele to give much well desrved love and care to. Really well done x x x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jo Winstone · October 30, 2015

    You never gave up on Permpoon and I for one will never give up on you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you all do. I know how upsetting the last two weeks have been…… xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Gloria bond · October 30, 2015

    Bless you BLES!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jane Anthony · October 30, 2015

    My God what a story! You must be utterly dedicated to have coped. What a wonder it is to me that amid such cruelty there are wonderful organisations like yours who make the difference, to animals like these . It makes life brighter to think about it !! Congratulations, may there be many more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. dave · October 30, 2015

    So very pleased to hear that Permpoon is now rightfully where she belongs – in the sanctuary where you at BLES have tirelessly strived to get her. It is so heart warming to recognise that there is someone out there with the facilities and the unflinching patience to do this for the delightful creatures. I’m sure that, with your care and understanding Permpoon will soon come to trust you, understand that her years of ill treatment is now a thing of the past. Thanks once again for striving to rescue her, a job which must have been made more painful – though nonetheless imperatve – with the sad passing of dear Naamfon. Well done to all, and keep up the amazing work regardless of the imbeciles who might try – in vain – to derail your endeavours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Anneke Muller · October 30, 2015

    All the stress, devastation and grieve that you suffered, have been repayed with love, and happiness that you conquered and got this sweet elephant where she belongs: WITH YOU!! Know that there are Many people that trust and love your Dedication! Thanks million!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jo Winstone · October 30, 2015

    A beautiful, sensitively written blog. Despite the horrendous accusations you battled every step of the way to bring Permpoon home. You wouldn’t give up on her and I for one will never give up on you. So proud of you Katherine xx

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Lynne Russert · October 30, 2015

    So happy this angel is finally free & safe. I pray she will have many years with you to enjoy her new life.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Laura · October 30, 2015

    Wow, what an ordeal you have lived through. I cannot imagine enduring that kind of harassment knowing that the only being that was really hurt was Permpoon, though every attempt has been made to degrade and dishonor you. Congratulations for staying true and focused on the real goal. Permpoon is so fortunate. Thank you for your work ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pam C · October 30, 2015

    Bless you all for sticking with it and not letting hate win. I can’t imagine how hard it’s been to lose Naamfon and go through this trial as well. I’m sure that with your terrific mahouts love and care that Permpoon will soon be thrashing through the jungle with the others. One good eye focused on her goal of elephant normalcy.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Leslie · October 30, 2015

    It is sad that the rescue world is full of people who choose ego and hatred over the real deal – cooperation and saving the animals. Good on you for keeping your head up and moving forward. Happy life, sweet Permpoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Ivy On Vine · October 30, 2015

    Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Kim Morgan · October 30, 2015

    I am so grateful to you for this happy ending. There is so much misery in the world and this helps keep me going. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Joanie Alex Gohr · October 30, 2015

    A friend runs a dog rescue, she has the same problems. I don’t understand. There are far more animals in need then there are rescues. Haters gonna hate. You have my full trust and faith that you care for these animals as much as I do and that’s all I need. Thank You. Peace

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Cj Ellie · October 30, 2015

    BLES has always lived a life of honor. Anyone who would say otherwise would be immediately recognized as lying. For BLES’s compassionate acts year after year speak louder than false words.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Joe Cuddy · November 1, 2015

    Thank goodness this poor old girl is finally safe and being cared for. I too was slandered by certain persons for trying to assist another elephant group and know only too well how it feels. I wish you all the very best

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Shirley · November 1, 2015

    I, like everyone else am grateful to you, and seriously shocked by all this. I respect you taking the high road on this, but like everyone else I am concerned. I donate when I can to BLES, ENP and of course David Sheldrick in Africa who wouldn’t want to help those dear little orphans. But, just like my choice to be vegan ( not support animal abuse through buying their product with my hard earned money). I would hate to think I am financially supporting a group that is being underhanded and doesn’t truly have the desire for the best for Elephants at heart. Lek, like you always seem so calm, loving of nature and animals, and also community. I can’t believe it was her, but if it were ENP I would want to know so that I could wisely make decisions on where to send my money.
    I do have one question you CAN answer!!! Why Pink Lady, I am sure you have posted that in the past o just missed it. So why Pink Lady? And do you think she will join the Gossip Girls, once her heart is balanced and she learns she can trust you all?
    Thank you for all you do.
    You make me cry as much as you make me smile, but you have educated me and also given my love of elephants a purpose and focus and for that I am grateful!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Pingback: KIND ANIMAL TOURISM – Part One: Elephants in Thailandi | kindanimaltourism
  32. Catherine Wood · October 23, 2016

    Dear Katherine,
    For what it’s worth, I have never seen anything online but the highest praise and regard for BLES, you and your family. Whoever this person or organization is, they will only reap what they sow. Very bad karma! Good on ya for rising above such nonsense. In the words of Michele Obama, when they go low, we go high! Trunks up!! ♥️


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