Sleep deep Permpoon, our pretty, pink lady…

It has taken me several days to gather the strength to announce the news of Permpoon’s passing…. To say her death has hit us all incredibly hard here at BLES, is putting it lightly…


Permpoon was a lady of strength and poise. She represented patience, perseverance, determination and independence. Every time I watched Permpoon, gingerly make her way through the long grass, gathering big bundles and slowly stuffing them in to her mouth, I would always be filled with this overwhelming feeling of thankfulness. Her rescue was one of the most complicated BLES has ever embarked on. Egos, politics, drama and bureaucracy, stalled the rescue of Permpoon for three months. It was a very tough time for everyone involved, but no one more so than our pretty Permpoon. Tied to a tree, she stood in the same place, wondering why the world had forgotten her. She lost weight and her arthritic and achey body, suffered greatly from the lack of exercise and poor diet.

During those three months, I went to visit Permpoon to let her know we had no intention of giving up on her. We point blank refused to walk away from her rescue and I often get asked where I drew my strength from during those dark and confusing days. The truth is, I drew my strength from her – from Permpoon. Her deep, dark eyes were filled with such sadness, but when you looked past that, there was a shimmer of hope, a sparkle of determination and that was what kept me focused and driven – Permpoon’s staunch mission to survive and then thrive, under our care.

And thrive, she did! It really was such an honour to be around Permpoon. When she first arrived at BLES, she was a ball of anger and aggression. Her mahout, Phi Daam, fell in love with her instantly and was intent on building a friendship with Permpoon, based on trust and respect. I remember watching him, nervously reaching through the bars of the quarantine house, to feed Permpoon and every time she would lash out in his direction. He would respond calmly, telling her it was ok. Telling her, he loved her and would again reach out with his hand to offer her reassurance.

Permpoon was a tough cookie and it took Phi Daam about a week to gain her trust completely. I remember the tears of excitement in his eyes when he came to me and said he felt she was strong enough to join our other elephants on a walk in to the forest. Together, Phi Daam and I walked out with Permpoon. She was slow and so fragile, but – and this is the thing about her I will always hold on to – she was SO DETERMINED. Her delicate frame masked her fierceness. She had an inner strength that blinded us all, right until she drew her last breath…

Permpoon had been collapsing on and off for the past twelve months. Her ageing body, that had been through six decades of exhausting labour, was beginning to give out, but Permpoon’s will to live on, motivated us to keep on helping her stand and give her the best possible care we could.


On Christmas Day morning, Permpoon collapsed again. We all knew what we had to do and  swiftly set up the tripod and hoist. It quickly became apparent that Permpoon’s body was not strong enough to stand and so, after several attempts, we agreed to remove the harnesses and let Permpoon rest. We surrounded her with blankets and rigged up a giant tent to protect her from the sun. I sat with her for hours, holding her trunk in both of my hands, telling her how loved she was and that it was ok to let go. Her breathing was laboured and she refused to eat or drink. As the sun set, so did my hopes of Permpoon ever standing again…

Permpoon’s mahout did not leave her side. He slept in a hammock, with a small fire burning beside them and kept a 24 hour vigil.

We all expected Permpoon to pass during the night, but we should have known better. The next morning, Permpoon was moving, swinging her legs and lifting her head up. She was trying to stand and as the mahouts speedily prepared everything, I held Permpoon’s trunk and told her that as long as she wanted to fight, we would fight with her.

We spent the next four hours cheering Permpoon on, helping her rise, allowing her intervals of rest and following her lead. We massaged her legs to encourage blood circulation and we supported her with all our physical strength when she searched for something to lean on.

Permpoon did stand again. Her legs were shaking and once again, her breathing was laboured. We could all see how hard she was trying and we all wanted to help her so desperately, but when I looked up in to her eyes, I could see straight away that her spirit was gone. I told the mahouts to slowly release the hoist and undo the harnesses. I was heartbroken, but knew that Permpoon’s time had come.

As she lay on the ground, motionless, Phi Daam went to her, with tears openly rolling down his face and whispered to her that he loved her. I believe it was at that very moment that Permpoon passed and am so proud that the last words she heard, were words of genuine and unconditional love.

One by one, the mahouts said their goodbyes, wishing Permpoon well and telling her to come back to them again. I waited until the very end and when they were all gone, I wrapped my arms around her head and sobbed uncontrollably. I am not sure how long I stayed there, embracing her… I just didn’t want to let her go.

We have buried Permpoon beside Sweet Sontaya, close to Sao Noi and Naamfon. Sitting amongst their graves, I am consumed with so much grief and heaviness, which is often hard to articulate. It is tempting to allow the sadness to consume me, but I hold these girls and all the other special souls we have lost over the years, so deep in my heart. I treasure the memories they have gifted us with over the years and I am just so grateful to be able to have given them back, what should have always been theirs, before it was too late.

2016 has been an emotional and at times, soul-destroying year. But in those moments of misery, I have searched for the lesson and I am thankful to be able to always gain something positive from my pain.

I am so sorry to deliver such sad news, but wish you all a wonderful, safe, happy and healthy new year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the constant strength and support you all give so generously to us – BLES is a family and we send love to you all.


Rest well Permpoon. You were SO loved and admired… We will never, ever forget you… xx




  1. Jo Winstone · December 31, 2016

    Roam free beautiful Pink Lady. You were and are loved beyond compare…. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John McDole · December 31, 2016

    Oh, Katherine, I know the needs and spirits of all the ele’s and other animals as well as the mahouts and families are what keep you focused on continuing this beautiful journey. Your devotion to them is inspiring, and your losses are heart-breaking because you allow us all to see into the world you all have created there–with the joys, triumphs and, of course, the farewells. Thank you all beyond words, and a very healthy, joy-filled New Year!


  3. Ellen · December 31, 2016

    I will miss Permpoon even though we never met. I feel I have met her spirit, strong, determined, and loving. Her presence effected us all, but the most important thing she shared is to never give up. I will say lots of prayers for Permpoon, and her beautiful family at BLES ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


  4. Winnie ropa · December 31, 2016

    Bless your heart rest in peace old lady,, im in tears reading this

    thank yojt BLES God Bless you


  5. mariamauriblog · December 31, 2016

    So very saddened by this news, 2016 has been a horrible year indeed. Rest in peace sweet pink lady, you will never be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to everyone who loved her.


  6. Brad Anthony · December 31, 2016

    Very sorry for your loss. Permpoon was quite a lucky girl to finally find a loving and caring family again. Sleep well old girl.


  7. Kali Dragonslayer · December 31, 2016

    Boon Lott’s is heaven on earth for these elephants, even though she had such a rough life, her retirement and freedom was surely her happiest moments. Finally knowing love, and patience and kindness. Thank you for all your dedication and determination, know for sure that you are very, very loved by the elephants and people all over the world. Godspeed sweet Permpoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cambridge Rat Mom · December 31, 2016

    Never apologize for your sadness or for having to tell us of sad news. We are with you in spirit and feel your anguish and pain almost as much as you do. It has been a tough year, no doubt about that. Loving these creatures is a hard and tough job. I won’t add a “but” clause in here. The good comes with the bad–the circle of life.

    Permpoon, beautiful Pink Lady, you were one of the very lucky eles. All I can say is that I am so glad that you got to live out your final day, weeks, months at BLES surrounded by unconditional love, acceptance, and respect. You did not go “gentle into that good night.”

    Hugs and condolences to all at BLES. You, too, are surrounded by love.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ribin · December 31, 2016

    She wanted to live longer to bask in the glory of her beautiful life at BLES….but it was time…she had to let go…RIP sweet Pink Lady Permpoon. We wish deeply you had more of the good life instead of the bad. 💗🐘💗


  10. Christina · December 31, 2016

    I am so sorry tears are flowing she will rest in peace knowing she was so loved


  11. Deirdre · December 31, 2016

    Dearest Katherine, I send love and condolences. The comments above articulate my thoughts and feelings better than I ever could. I would like to somehow convey how gratifying and comforting it is to know that you are extending a welcoming hand and beautiful environment for these overworked and ill-treated animals. The kindness is overwhelming and brings tears to my eyes always. Very best to you, your family and the mahouts.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. gailpadgett · December 31, 2016

    Love and light around each of you and Permpoon.


  13. Mary and Robert Saunders · December 31, 2016

    Dear Katherine David Phi Daam and all the mahouts thinking of you all and sending love and thanks for all you did for Permpoon. I feel very privileged to have met her and even made rice balls of vitamins for her on our last day there. She certainly had the best time of her life with you surrounded by love. Thank you for all you did for her and for sharing such a heartfelt epitaph to her.


  14. Cheryl Hamilton · December 31, 2016

    Thank you so much for allowing us to share in your emotional and final goodbye to Permpoon and encouraged them in their passing as I knew then and know even more now that we will all be joined again and what a joyous reunion that will be. I think what is so very touching in your work..a real labor of love is the fact that even at the loss of one you never might want to …as you are so overcome with grief…but they live on through your amazing work and love for the other ellies. GOD bless you and all those with you and who support you in trying to change the world in a positive way….it’s working and the slumbering world seems to be waking up. What an incredible gift of love you gave to Permpoon as she prepared for her final journey home. xx


  15. Gina · December 31, 2016

    I’ll Hope you’ve arrived in Elephant heaven. So long’ve made our lives happier, brighter …sweet dreams


  16. RL Ryder · December 31, 2016

    I am sad to hear of the pretty lady’s passing. It made me happy to know her final time on this earth she was happy. She got to be free and happy and even tho she was not well, she got know what love was and feel it. Now she is in animal Valhalla and happy, free, having fun with all the animals that have gone before her.


  17. Constance Driver · December 31, 2016

    Omgosh…. I am CRYING MY EYES OUT!!! 😪😪😪 Bless You ALL for EVERYTHING You do for these BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS ❤️ You are truly all ANGELS ON EARTH. My most sincere condolences to all of You!!!!!


  18. Bobbie Fleming · January 1, 2017

    God bless you all for everything you do. Writing this through my tears, I know how deeply the passing of any of your dear friends touches you and all of us. Thank you for being you.


  19. Vy · January 2, 2017

    Once again so thankful for BLES. Permpoon was free and now enjoys the ultimate freedom. My love from afar.


  20. Ribeiro Cristina · January 2, 2017

    I was so shocked I could not write a word. Dearest Permpoon is gone. How difficult it must be for BLES to cope with the sadness of a departure. I can only say – thank you – for all the love and care you all give to these magnificent girl and boys. Sending you all my love. Cristina


  21. NICOLA FAULKNER · January 2, 2017

    So enormously sad for the loss of Permpoon…But so overjoyed and relieved knowing she was loved and finally free from the despair and suffering that had become her existence….Her time with all you beautiful souls was so precious….I have enormous respect and share in your grief….


  22. Ribeiro Cristina · January 2, 2017

    I was so shocked I could not write a word. Dearest Permpoon is gone. How difficult especially for BLES to cope with the sadness of a departure . I can only say – thank you – for all the love and care you all give to these wonderful girls and boys. Sending you all my love. Cristina


  23. Jennifer Leigh Evans · January 4, 2017

    Rest well, sweet Permpoon, our Pink Lady… you deserve to rest.


  24. Lori Conley · January 6, 2017

    Rest well dear lady Permpoon, and roam free at BLES always – you were dearly loved and respected there, and by caring people around the world.


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