Posts Tagged ‘mahout’

Reflections on the 2012 Genesis Awards and the Elephant Summit

Friday, March 30th, 2012

This past week, I had the opportunity to meet many animal lovers at the 2012 Genesis Awards in Los Angeles and the 2012 Summit for Elephants at the Oakland Zoo.

The 2012 Genesis Awards were very exciting since “The Eyes of Thailand” won an ACE Documentary Film Award from the Humane Society of the United States. It was wonderful to meet everyone at the Humane Society, the other award winners, and also other people dedicating their lives to be a voice for the animals.

There were a LOT of speeches over the two-day event, but the two quotes that stood out the most to me were actually responses that we can all use when someone asks, “Why are you working so hard to help the animals when people are [hurt/ starving/ unemployed/ homeless/ etc.]?”

The first response is: Compassion is a muscle. It needs to be exercised.

The second is: Where there is animal neglect, there is child neglect. Where there is animal abuse, there is domestic violence. When we help the lives of non-human animals, we help the lives of the humans around them.

People have asked me the “Why animals?” question less and less over the years–perhaps because they realized after 4.5 years that I’ve cast my lot with the elephants–but it really helped to hear the Humane Society and its awardees make the connections, and it gave me hope that we can make significant gains to protect animals and end cruelty, just in time to attend the Elephant Summit.

The 2012 Summit for Elephants took a two-year break, so it was great to reconnect with all our “Ele-Friends” from 2010 and see what they’ve been up to. Here are some highlights:

  1. Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips from Animal Defenders International (ADI) discussed how Bolivia, Bosnia and now Greece were able to ban all animals in circuses and “entertainment”, in hopes that other countries, including the US, will also join the ban (See more at Break the Chain below).
  2. Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani of Wildlife SOS India gave everyone a quick overview of the issues facing Asian Elephants, particularly once they are considered “captive” by their respective governments, and how they are working within India’s systems to phase out all elephants in captivity and establish “Elephant Haven” as a model self-sustaining elephant sanctuary.
  3. Catherine Doyle of In Defense of Animals (IDA) talked about the importance of re-examining our relationships with non-human animals and using that as a springboard to discuss how animal abuse in circuses goes against our “community values”.
  4. Delicianna Winders of PETA discussed how we can legally go after circuses and reminded us that “the only humane circus is a circus without animals”.
  5. Matt Rossell of ADI announced recent successes of the “Break the Chain” campaign to support TEAPA, the Traveling Exotic Animals Protection Act (H.R. 3359)–which I encourage every “Ele-Friend” to check out.
  6. Katie Maneeley of Animal Agency discussed the importance of creating a collective effort between disparate groups and using the media to combat the big money behind circuses.

I was also pleased to hear Maneeley make the connections between animal abuse and child abuse, particularly when Ringling Bros. gave free circus tickets to a shelter for women and children survivors of domestic violence. She offered the shelter director an alternative, saying that since the women and children in their facility were survivors of violence, they probably knew how hard it is to see another being abused and coerced. The shelter agreed and they went to the movies, instead, thanks to free ticket vouchers from PETA.

Motivation for keeping up the fight. Even in a room full of 100s, even 1,000s, of animal welfare supporters, it’s hard not to get discouraged about all the work before us. However, I believe Catherine Doyle said it best at the Elephant Summit:

“Saving one elephant may not change the world, but you change the world for that elephant.”

By supporting, “The Eyes of Thailand” documentary, you aren’t just supporting Motala and Mosha, the two elephants featured in the film; you are also supporting FAE’s Elephant Hospital, to ensure that it can continue to treat elephants at no charge to the elephant owners for years to come.

However, you are also doing more than that. By sharing our Facebook posts, Tweets, newsletters and the link to our website, you are also helping us start a global conversation about how we can protect Asian and African Elephants in their natural habitats, as well as their captive environments.

Thank you for joining us and we look forward to sharing some BIG film announcements very soon.

Sincerely,

Windy Borman, Director/Producer, “The Eyes of Thailand”

Sneak Peek at the Film’s Animations

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day, “Ele-Friends”!

I am pleased to announce that we recieved our 1,900th Facebook Fan last night, which means we can reveal more still frames of the film’s animations. All the animations were done by the amazingly talented Tahnee Gehm and will appear in the final cut of “The Eyes of Thailand” documentary. (To see the previously released “sneak peek” animation stills, click here). Enjoy!

Motala's mahout comforts her after she steps on a landmine.

Baby Mosha is injured by a landmine.

Soraida welcomes Baby Mosha to FAE's Elephant Hospital

Soraida Salwala protests elephant exports in Thailand.

A departure from the Thai shadow puppet aesthetc, this animation shows elephant weight distribution and the importance of building an elephant-sized prosthesis for Baby Mosha.

A blue-print style animation shows the steps involved with building a prosthesis.

Life and Loss at FAE’s Elephant Hospital

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Mosha & Palahdee relax on her mat at FAE. (Photo credit: Michael Wysocki).

By Michael Wysocki

Kammoon, a former patient of FAE admitted a year ago for severe constipation, has now left our world. Heavy rains at an elephant tourist camp proved to be fatal for Kammoon, causing her to slip down into a narrow ravine immobilizing her. The rains poured down and with no truck to help dig her out, time was just too precious. Now we can only imagine her story, and just try to understand her fate.  Bless you Kammoon and thank you for your presence here on earth.

After this tragic loss, and the rains gone for now, we enter a new day filled with sunshine and hope here at FAE. While Soraida heals and regains strength to continue her mission rescuing her “children”, the team stays focused on healing the ones within their reach. Motala and Mosha continue their rehabilitation and practice daily using their Prosthetic leg, I am so proud of you two. Ya’ll bring so much joy to the visitors that come from even across the world to see you. They even know of Mosha’s cheeky habits like turning on the water faucet on the other side of the fence and scrubbing her own enclosure. She loves her young mahout, Palahdee, and just seems so content lying there on her bed resting her body next to him, still using her lively trunk to pick at him.
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Where do the elephants go?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

After being treated at FAE's Elephant Hospital, an elephant is returned to its owner and transported back to Chiang Mai. (Photo by Michael Wysocki).

By Michael Wysocki

Everywhere I go I am so fascinated and curious, like there’s more to these Elephants than I realized. I have only been here a few days and I have seen five Elephants come or go. Where are they coming from? Where do they go?
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Elephant-mahout connections at the World’s First Elephant Hospital

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Day 2 from Michael Wysocki:

After two full days at FAE I am starting to understand its being, not only the Elephants as creatures but this entire sanctuary of a home for every life here. Soraida has created a little 200 acre world and as I walk around I ask myself, how did she do it? I have read about her journey thus far, all the financial struggle, discouraging events, and even death threats; but to be inside the home, the core, of the fight to save the Asian Elephant is the most “down to earth” feeling I have ever felt.

So, I became curious to really understand the intentions of the people who live and work these Elephants. Mahouts and young and upcoming mahouts are the Elephant’s keeper and family. Elephants as a species are smart, strong, and free-willed and I am learning what it takes to earn an Elephant’s trust, especially one that has been exploited in the past.  My goal was to observe today without interfering, so I sat down on rain soaked soil amongst the banana trees with my camera, staring and listening to the secret language between an Elephant and its mahout. There is a language barrier between me and the mahouts, which is probably best for them because I am full of questions, but I have learned a way to gain their trust and accept to my presence: I smile. Smiling with Thai people has become my favorite game because, so far, everyone has smiled back, if not first.
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TTouch alleviates pain for elephant landmine survivors

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Photo credit: Jodi Frediani

Below is an excerpt from a longer article published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on January 2, 2011:

Boonmee was depressed and in pain.

The 10-year-old Asian elephant was separated from her mother and her foot looked like a cauliflower. She’d stepped on a land mine near Thailand’s border in September, which blew her foot apart, and traveled for two days before arriving at the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital in Lampang, Thailand.

By early November, the hospital’s staff worried that Boonmee was giving up, said Bonny Doon resident Jodi Frediani, 62, who visited the hospital last month. Boonmee wasn’t eating, was withdrawn and couldn’t walk easily. And, “she repeatedly, gently touched her cauliflower foot with the tip of her trunk,” Frediani said.

But then, Frediani tried using TTouch on Boonmee. The touch-based therapy is similar to gentle bodywork and can help relieve physical and emotional distress in animals.

TTouch appeared to revive the elephant’s spirit, and her previously glassy-eyed stare gave way to tears. Soon, Boonmee was offering areas to be worked on — like her enormous, large-eared head, which “she lowered so I could do some of the circular TTouches,” said Frediani, a 30-year practitioner of TTouch.

By the end of the day, Boonmee had become playful, even letting Frediani peel bananas for her.

“Boonmee had a new brightness and a twinkle in her eye,” said Windy Borman, a San Francisco-based filmmaker who traveled to Thailand with Frediani and observed the TTouch process. “The elephants definitely formed a connection with Jodi,” Borman said. “They remembered her and would come greet her.”

To read the rest of the story and view more photos by Jodi Frediani, click here.

-Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand

Day One at FAE’s Elephant Hospital

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Mosha, an elephant landmine survivor, with her mahout John at FAE's Elephant Hospital.

Going back to the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital was quite an emotional experience. Mosha (age 4) has grown a least a foot (no pun intended) taller since I saw her last August, but is still as playful as ever.  She was very curious to sniff the new volunteers and was walking around on her temporary prostheses.  She’s growing so fast the Prostheses Foundation is going to have to make her another soon!

Motala (age 49), on the other hand, is wearing her protective white bag over her stump again because her updated prostheses was irritating the sensitive skin on her stump. Thankfully, the Prostheses Foundation is coming back tomorrow to build her a new prostheses.  Stay tuned for pictures!

Mae Ka Pae soaking her hind leg in an antiseptic bath at FAE's Elephant Hospital.

Seeing Boonmee and Mae Ka Pae, the newest landmine survivors at FAE, was very hard. Mae Ka Pae, (age 22), who injured her hind leg after stepping on a landmine along the Thai-Myanmar border in August, is able to walk slightly better than when she first arrived at FAE. It’s still painful to watch her limp, but Dr. Preecha says her wound is healing well enough that they don’t think they’ll need to amputate her leg.

Boonmee prepares to soak her front foot in an antiseptic bath at FAE's Elephant Hospital.

Boonmee (age 10) is another story. Her front leg looks like an exploded flower and is not healing well, but Soraida Salwala, FAE’s founder, is more concerned about her depression.  This is the first time Boonmee has been separated from her mother and, on top of that, her mahout (owner) ran away and deserted her at FAE a month ago. Elephants are such emotional and social animals that this heartache can cause them to die from the loss.

Anne Snowball and Patty Coogan do Craniosacral therapy on Boonmee.

When we first saw her, Boonmee’s eyes were totally glassed over. Then, Jodi Frediani, Anne Snowball and Patty Coogan (three of the volunteers traveling with me) began using their T-Touch and Craniosacral therapy on Boonmee and she began to weep, letting go of some of her emotional and physical trauma.  She began to open up and soon was allowing Jodi, Anne and Patty to peel and feed her bananas. It was amazing to see this shift and her willingness to connect with us.

John, Mosha's mahout, practices T-Touches on Jodi Frediani's arm.

Later in the afternoon, Jodi, Anne, and Patty explained T-Touch and taught Dr. Kay and two of FAE’s mahouts (John and Somchai) three T-Touches, while Soraida translated. The staff at FAE were very receptive and picked up the touches quickly.

Jodi and Anne walk with Mosha.

Then all six went down and tried the T-Touches on Motala and Mosha.  After some initial confusion on the parts of the elephants, they liked it enough that each started presenting areas to be worked on.  Motala even presented her amputated leg for the women to work on and remove some of the pain from her stump!

Motala, a 49-year old elephant landmine survivor, presents her amputated leg for TTouch.

It was quite an experience to be back and witness another dimension of the healing and growth at FAE–and this is only the beginning! We’re here for four more days, so stay tuned.

Sincerely,

Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand

Help make a movie about injured elephants

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Dear Friends, Family and Elephant Supporters,

As you know by now, I’m going back to Thailand to film the two newest elephant landmine survivors at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital (Oct 31-Nov 4) and then it’s on to Laos to attend the Youth Leaders Forum for the International Campaign to Ban landmines (Nov 7-12). But I need your help to get there!

In the past week we’ve raised $1,500 of the $3,000 needed for the 16-day documentary trip. Thank you for this amazing show of support!

We still have a ways to go, so if you’re still looking to donate or invest in the film, if you’ve always wanted to be in show biz, and if you want to help make a movie you’d be proud to see in the theaters, please help us today.

  1. Donate through the film’s fiscal sponsor, the San Francisco Film Society. All donations are tax-deductible and you can donate using a debit or credit card through a secure link via The Eyes of Thailand web site: http://eyesofthailand.com
  2. Transfer stock to the film via the SF Film Society. It’s also tax-deductible.

No donation is too small and all donations are tax-deductible! In recognition of your support, I am offering the following VIP perks to donors:

  • $25 = Personal thank you note from yours truly, plus a signed promotional postcard—it’ll be a collector’s item one day!
  • $100 = All of the above, plus thanked in the film’s credits.
  • $500 = All of the above, plus “Special Thanks” in the film’s credits and a signed DVD of the finished film.
  • $1,000 = All of the above, plus listed in the Partners section of The Eyes of Thailand web site.
  • $5,000+ = All of the above, plus a private screening for you and friends, plus a Q&A with me about the film.

Next, I’m hoping you can help me spread the word about my trip. The October 8, 2010 blog post contains a copy of the Press Release about my upcoming trip.  Please read it and then share the official link with your press contacts.  We’re hoping this goes global, so don’t be shy!

Finally, I’ll be blogging and posting updates on Facebook and Twitter from Thailand and Laos, so you can follow my progress. You can access all the updates via “The Eyes of Thailand” web site.

Thank you for continuing to support my quest to tell the world about the plight of the Asian Elephants and the ongoing threat of landmines. I could not do it without you!

Gratefully,

Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand

windy@dvaproductions.com

http://eyesofthailand.com

P.S. Donations of any size help and all donations are tax-deductible when made through the San Francisco Film Society. You can donate by either clicking the “Please Donate” link on the The Eyes of Thailand web site. Thank you so much! Krup kum ka!

ACTION ALERT: Can you help us film in Thailand & Laos?

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Dear Friends, Family and Elephant Supporters,

I’m going back to Thailand.

On September 11, 2010, another elephant stepped on a landmine along the Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, thus becoming the fourth elephant landmine survivor to be treated at FAE’s Elephant Hospital in Thailand. This latest victim (Boonmee) joins three others: Mae ka pae, who stepped on a landmine in August, Motala and Baby Mosha.

Thanks to generous donations, I traveled to Thailand in August 2009 to film Motala and Mosha receive their prosthetic limbs for my documentary The Eyes of Thailand. I optimistically thought I could end the film with the happy ending of the elephants taking their first steps on their new prostheses. Instead I need to return to film two new survivors and try to unravel why elephant landmine accidents have increased in the past 2 months.

My current plan is to travel to Thailand October 28 – November 7 with four other Elephant Hospital volunteers who specialize in TTouch, an effective form of animal bodywork that relieves pain and assists with animals’ recovery from illness or injury.  We’re hoping it helps landmine survivors, too.

I’ll wrap up the trip by attending the International Campaign to Ban Landmines conference in Laos, November 8-12. This will enable me to get the global perspective on landmine removal, as well as interview Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan and Nobel Prize-winner Jody Williams, key voices for landmine and cluster bomb removal.

To date we’ve raised US $530 of the US $3,000 needed to accomplish this 16-day documentary trip. Last summer we raised $3,000 in one weekend to get me back to Thailand to film Mosha and Motala getting their prostheses, so I’m confident we can raise that much before October 14th, but I need your help. This time there are two ways you can help:

  1. Donate through the film’s fiscal sponsor, the San Francisco Film Society. All donations are tax-deductible and you can donate using a debit or credit card through a secure link via The Eyes of Thailand web site: http://eyesofthailand.com
  2. Transfer stock to the film via the SF Film Society. It’s also tax-deductible.

I need to purchase my ticket (at the very latest) by October 14, 2010, so please contact me if you have any question or would like more details about the above options. Additionally, if you have any leads to family foundations or corporate sponsorships, please email me directly as listed below.

In recognition of your support, I am offering the following VIP perks to donors:

  • $25 = Personal thank you note from yours truly, plus a signed promotional postcard—it’ll be a collector’s item one day!
  • $100 = All of the above, plus thanked in the film’s credits.
  • $500 = All of the above, plus “Special Thanks” in the film’s credits and a signed DVD of the finished film.
  • $1,000 = All of the above, plus listed in the Partners section of The Eyes of Thailand web site.
  • $5,000+ = All of the above, plus a private screening for you and friends, plus a Q&A with me about the film.

I will be blogging and posting updates on Facebook and Twitter from Thailand and Laos, so please follow my progress.  You can access all the updates via The Eyes of Thailand’s web site: http://eyesofthailand.com

Thank you for continuing to support my quest to tell the world about the plight of the Asian Elephants and the ongoing threat of landmines. I could not do it without you!

With immense gratitude,

Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand

Eyes of Thailand, LLC | P.O. Box 420395 | San Francisco, CA 94142

windy@dvaproductions.com

http://eyesofthailand.com

P.S. Donations of any size help and all donations are tax-deductible when made through the San Francisco Film Society. You can donate by either clicking the “Please Donate” link on the The Eyes of Thailand web site or by mailing a check to the address above. Please make the checks payable to the “San Francisco Film Society” and include “The Eyes of Thailand” in the Memo Line. Thank you so much! Krup kum ka!

Thai Elephant strays from sanctuary

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Photo Credit: Bangkok Post

On July 22, 2010, a 28-year old elephant strayed from its wildlife sanctuary in Thailand. Instead of sending him to a zoo, Thai mahouts performed a ritual to ask the deities to approach him. While they eventually used a tranquilizer on him, the mahouts succeeded in loading him onto a truck and taking him to the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in Chachoengsao.

You can read the full article here.

Photo credit: Bangkok Post

-Windy Borman

Director/Producer, The Eyes of Thailand