Saying Farewell to Sweet Sao Noi…

There is such an intense and overwhelming ache in my heart right now. It consumes my entire chest and sits, stagnant in my stomach, along with the bundle of knots that have been increasing in size over the past few days…

Life can seem so unfair at times and I have found myself spinning in a non stop cycle of confusion and frustration to relief and understanding.

Here at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), we pride ourselves on taking in elderly elephants and giving them back what should have always been theirs – their freedom, their dignity, their right to chose… We cherish every moment of discovery as the elephants regain their strength and recover from the trauma of working in the tourism industry. Each elephant reacts to their retirement differently. Some of them form firm friendships, some of them focus on eating and replenishing their exhausted bodies, some of them explore every inch of our forested land and walk several miles each day… it can be an emotional rollercoaster walking side by side with our elephants as they go from strength to strength. All of us wish more than anything that their time with us will be long, that their days will be many and their lives will go on and on.

Sadly, this is not always how it works.

Sometimes, when we watch our fragile new arrivals take their first few shaky steps of freedom, we burst with pride for them. Yet, at the same time we share a silent sadness, because we all know that despite our tireless efforts, expert care and endless amounts of love, these beautiful old and oh so wise souls, will not be with us for very long.


This was the case for our most recent rescue, Sao Noi. Her skeletal body told the unthinkable horror stories from her past that none of us wanted to hear. Her tired eyes were filled with haunting shadows that tore at your soul. But, her smile, sweet, warm and gentle, reminded us that no matter how incredibly tough life seems at times, there is always hope and there is always BLES.

Sao Noi’s health has been a big concern for us and we have kept her on round the clock care since she arrived just over one month ago now. She has blown us away with her inner strength and determination to live every day as if it were her last and now, as I sit here, typing about her passing, I wonder if she knew, more than we did, that her days on this earth were coming to an end.

Sao Noi loved being out in the forest. She would explore every little bit, of every bush, every tree, every puddle and field. She loved the company of people and would often approach us, just to be close to us. Sao Noi also loved the company of her own kind, Boon Thong and Permpoon being two of her closest friends. Sao Noi loved her food and would make quick work of the healthy options we offered her. She loved to smother herself in thick mud and she LOVED a good scratch!

Sao Noi loved her life and we loved watching her live every meaningful moment.

Sao Noi has taught us that the true meaning of contentment, is living, breathing and feeling every single moment. Being in the moment and embracing what it brings….

These past few days have been some of the most emotionally exhausting for the BLES family. We have all been hands on, supporting Sao Noi in her moments of need and doing everything we possibly could to make her as comfortable as possible. She stood so paitently when the vets from TECC came to administer emergency IV fluids and she trusted in us so whole heartedly when we were hoisting her back on to her feet, after she had collapsed.


The moment she passed from this world on to the next, will always be etched in the depths of my heart. With her eyes closed, she let out a deep and long purr… I sat with her, stroking her and told her over and over how very loved she was. I closed my eyes and listened to everything she was listening to. The playful songs of the birds, the rythum of the raindrops, the gentle breeze – all we could hear, as we lay on the ground, were the sounds of nature.


I am so proud of the easy passing Sao Noi made. I am grateful that we were able to watch her thrive and I am thankful for every precious moment we shared. My heart is full of thanks for my mahouts and their genuine compassion and incredible dedication to Sao Noi’s wellbeing. As always, I am indebted to you, our wonderful supporters around the world who made the rescue of Soa Noi happen. I am so appreciative to Sao Noi’s previous owner for letting her go.


We held a beautiful ceremony in celebration of Sao Noi’s long life. The head monks from our local temples came and blessed her body and then we buried Sao Noi in the forest, beside beautiful Naamfon, who passed away in October of last year.


We all made offerings of fruit and flowers and Phi Sot, our head mahout, covered Sao Noi’s eyes with a small towel, as he didn’t want the dirt to spoil her pretty eyes. As he lay the towel down, he touched her cheek and told her to go and find Somai. He told her that Somai would take care of her.


Once the digger truck had finished covering Sao Noi’s body, Phi Gom, Sao Noi’s mahout, planted grass and pineapple heads in a circle for her. Even though the time they had spent together was short, the impact Sao Noi made on Phi Gom was profound. Wiping away tears, he told us that he would never forget her sweet smile.


None of us will ever be able to foget Sao Noi and the joy she brought to our lives. Although my tears are still falling, I sit here and smile, as I imagine her walking through the long grass, together with Somai, Naamfon and all the other souls we have been blessed to share our world with. I miss her so much, but I am also filled with a sense of relief for Sao Noi. She is no longer trapped in this life that wore down her body and broke her spirit. She is well and truly, free….. God bless her beautiful being.







  1. Rebecca lane-nohl · July 6, 2016

    I dont know you in person…but such moving words,so powerful and so compassionate, you moved my very soul ..thank you to you and all at bless for making Sao Noi’s last moments full of love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pam C · July 6, 2016

    That was so beautifully written. I’m sitting here crying my eyes out. You give each elephant such a beautiful burial and respectful send off. I can only hope that this is a sign that another elephant will join your ranks soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yuki Hayashi · July 6, 2016

    What a beautiful tribute. She is at peace and thanks to your team, her last days were good ones.


  4. nupur pande · July 7, 2016

    Thank you for caring. I never liked elephants working in the fields or the zoos. They are so majestic, so beautiful, and so intelligent. I shed my own tears reading your tribute. But she passes on from this body, to eternal soul. Peace.


  5. Jennifer Edwards · July 7, 2016

    Thank you for all the love and care you all gave to Sao Noi. A short time spent with you at the end if a tortured life and you showered this beautiful soul with love. Go with all that love dear beautiful soul. Xxx


  6. Brenda Dendaas · July 7, 2016

    I am so so sorry to have discovered this sad news tonight. Thank you for doing so much to give Sao Noi a beautiful life in her remaining days. I am so filled with gratitude for being able to visit this spring and to see first hand the amazing love ,care and surroundings you provide for all our animal brothers and sisters that we share this planet with. I am comforted in knowing that Sao Noi was given the best possible chance, and that she knew the peace, love and caring provided by a true sanctuary that puts the needs of animals first….always. Thank you for making yourselves vulnerable to the heartache that often comes with doing what you all do; hugs and love to all xox


  7. Nathalie · July 7, 2016

    Thanks. A lot. For these tears and for the heart opening / wrenching introduction / good-bye to this beautiful being, incidentally an elephant. May you continue to be blessed with these humanizing experiences (that I am so admittedly jealous of) and the full, quenching words that roll from you.


  8. SEACKUONG MAC · July 7, 2016

    i am so sad after reading your words. but on the other hand, i am so glad to know such a nice person like you. Your heart is full of love and mercy.


  9. Kevin Robson · July 7, 2016

    I didn’t know such Blessed angels existed to watch over and care for God’s most magnificent, strong and yet, so gentle creatures. Others try to teach/train Thai elephants using inhumane, abhorrent or even kind methods. Only very few of us it seems, truly understand that the elephants have much more to teach us. How can they be so strong and yet be so gentle, so fearful and yet so kind. So respectful of all others but especially within their own family and group. All the time providing a relentless love of their children and those of the others within the group. They make a bond with others that cannot be broken, more so, it only grows in strength of the heart to surpass their own physical strength. But back to God’s Angels at BLES. Perhaps you are or certainly should be, God’s most remarkable gift to us all. No matter what I do in my life, I must make it to your sanctuary to see for myself the truly magnificent work your team do in caring for the ill treated, sick, or just elderly elephants to ensure they experience joy and peace as they rightfully deserve.


  10. Marcy Henle · July 7, 2016

    I too am sitting here crying…..what a beautiful story of Sao Noi’s life. Thanks for sharing in photos, as well as words.


  11. Brenda Dendaas · July 7, 2016

    I am so so sorry to have discovered this sad news tonight. Thank you for doing so much to give Sao Noi a beautiful life in her remaining days. I am so filled with gratitude for being able to visit this spring and to see first hand the amazing love ,care and surroundings you provide for all our animal brothers and sisters that we share this planet with. I am comforted in knowing that Sao Noi was given the best possible chance, that she knew the peace, love and caring provided by a true sanctuary that puts the needs of animals first….always. Thank you for making yourselves vulnerable to the heartache that often comes with doing what you all do; hugs and love to all xox


  12. Barbara Palmento · July 7, 2016

    I am grateful Sao Noi was not alone when she died and that she was surrounded by people who loved her. Hugs to you all.


  13. Catherine · July 7, 2016

    If only there were more people in the world as compassionate as you in a place they can do the most good. Thank you for making this wonderful creatures last moments on earth happy and full of love.


  14. whales64 · July 7, 2016

    crying and crying and crying. Happy she died free, sad freedom was short, your beautifully written words….


  15. Lynn Freudenberg · July 7, 2016

    Simply beautiful! Thank you for honoring Sao Noi’s life. I am so happy Sao Noi had the chance to meet loving and caring humans.


  16. Ada · July 7, 2016

    I share your greef for this lovely elephant and I bless the work all of you do in order to safe elephants. I’m glad she had rest and friends in her last month. Keep up the good work.


  17. Gina 512495 · July 7, 2016

    A dignified and beautiful end for a dignified and beautiful creature.


  18. tellisa hill byrd · July 7, 2016

    Thank you all for the wonderful care you All gave her, god bless


  19. Sylvia Ingram. · July 7, 2016

    Good-Bye Sao Noi. God bless,you will no longer have to slave.


  20. Sheree Lange · July 7, 2016

    All Creatures Great and Small – the Lord God Made them All. We were put on this earth to lead the animals – I feel so much for every living creature and there is just so much a person can do to turn the life of an abused animal around. Why, why why would this happen to such a gentle giant. Many thanks go out to the people that gave her some dignity, freedom and love. As it should be with all animals. I hope there is a Rainbow Bridge for elephants. I hope when I die that’s where I will go. With all the creatures. Amen.


  21. Lori Pearl · July 7, 2016

    I am so sorry to hear of this great loss. I read this article and the tears were streaming down my face. Sao Noi was truly loved…


  22. Donna Pothier · July 8, 2016

    Thank You So much for giving her a beautiful last month filled with love and dignity. Every life is so precious.


  23. Fiona Ingram (@FionaRobyn) · July 8, 2016

    Crying as I write this but I am so happy that this beautiful elephant had a month of love, joy, friendship, companionship, freedom and nourishment. She was able to do all the things that had been denied to her for so long. She died peacefully and was honoured with a dignified, loving burial. Thank you for treating this wonderful creature, this magnificent elephant with all the respect and compassion she so deserved.


  24. Pingback: Present day condition of elephants in Thailand
  25. Bel Grant · July 18, 2016

    RIP Sao Noi, your life was hard and short but your eternity will be easy and long.


  26. Kali Dragonslayer · August 12, 2016

    I am certain the happiest moments of her life were at Boon Lott’s, tears flooded my keyboard reading this because I know how your heart aches for these elderly beauties. :::hug::: godspeed sweet girl.


  27. Marilyn Komisar · August 20, 2016

    Thank you for sharing and allowing us to bear witness to the horrors of an elephants life in captivity And thank you for the humanity you and others showed in caring for Sao Noi in her last years of life.


  28. Katja Ainiala · August 1, 2017

    Thank you all for caring and loving ❤❤❤ I’m totally stranger and yet I’m crying my eyes out reading this story 😭😢 All animals deserve love and respect. Beautiful creatures. Bless you all ❤ And thank god there’s still humanity in this world. This story is so sad but it also gave hope for the better future. THANK YOU FOR THE WONDERFUL JOB ❤❤❤


  29. Pingback: Sao Noi | shutterbugDANCER

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