Originally founded in the 1996, Lek's park has become a loving home to, at last count, 34 elephants. Almost all of the elephants at the park have been rescued from either abuse, neglect or, worst of all, downsizing, the tour guide, an equally petite young Thai woman, explains to the group of visitors this January day. She says traditionally elephants were used in Thailand's logging industry, but after a logging ban enacted in 1989, these working elephants became liabilities and were often sold into the tourist trade or just let loose. And while an elephant in the tourist trade may only have to contend with a certain loss of dignity, a fully grown elephant roaming an inhabited countryside quickly becomes a pest and is dealt with as such. Of the many elephants taken into the park over the years one was blinded, one lost a tusk to poachers, one lost a foot to a land mine, and 2 were orphaned, she says. However, since it's founding the park has recorded seven births. No history of abuse for those big babies.
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