In a heartwarming moment caught on camera, a wild elephant named Plai Thang recognized the vet who treated him 12 years prior. The 31-year-old bull reached out his trunk to touch Doctor Pattarapol Maneeon’s hand during an unexpected reunion this month.
At the time of their initial meeting, Plai Thang was suffering from trypanosomiasis, a potentially fatal parasitic condition also known as sleeping sickness.
A wild elephant has recognised the vet who treated him 12 years ago in a heartwarming moment caught on camera. The 31-year-old bull named Plai Thang reached out his trunk to touch Doctor Pattarapol Maneeon’s hand (pictured) during an unexpected reunion this month
In 2009, the elephant was found struggling through woodland in Rayong, eastern Thailand. It was suffering with potentially fatal trypanosomiasis – a parasitic condition also known as sleeping sickness
Doctor Pattarapol arrived to treat the stricken jumbo, which was ‘close to death’ and contending with a fever, loss of appetite, and swelling on its face, neck and stomach.
Plai Thang was also suffering from inflamed eyes, stiff legs and back and anaemia.
The frail animal was taken to the Forest Industry Organisation’s territory in Lampang province to be treated by staff from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
He was released several months later after recovering.
Earlier this month, Doctor Pattarapol was patrolling the area when he said he recognised the distinctive sound of the elephant he encountered 12 years ago.
He beckoned to Plai Thang who reached his trunk out to greet Doctor Pattarapol, making contact with a human for what is believed to be the first time in more than a decade.
The vet is certain that Plai Thang recognised him.
Earlier this month, Doctor Pattarapol (left) was patrolling the area when he said he recognised the distinctive sound of the elephant he encountered 12 years ago
The doctor on the right gestured for Plai Thang to come closer, and the elephant reached out his trunk to greet Doctor Pattarapol, marking their first contact in over a decade.
“I remember the sound very clearly,” recalled Doctor Pattarapol. “Plai Thang’s noise is very unique.”
“When we first met, Plai Thang was very aggressive. His body was weak and he couldn’t fight other elephants. It took a long time for him to heal, but we learned that he was very intelligent and resourceful.”
“Recently, we met again, and we were able to recognize each other and exchange greetings. It was a very special moment.”
“I hope this experience encourages everyone to appreciate the work that people do with elephants,” concluded Doctor Pattarapol.
Elephants are Thailand’s official animal, and the country is home to an estimated 3,000-4,000 of these majestic creatures. Roughly half of them are domesticated, while the rest reside in nature reserves.