An eye for an eye

RESCUED ELEPHANTS at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai Thailand

It’s amazing how each event and moment in our lives is so interconnected even though at first glance they seem unrelated.  My eye injury was an unfortunate boo boo but then today I got an email from the Elephant Nature Foundation in Chiang Mai Thailand that put my problem into perspective instantly!

RESCUED ELEPHANTS at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai Thailand

They initially wrote to thank me for the photos I took while visiting the park in February


While at the website I decided to peruse around as long as my eye could stand it and see how my foster boy MAX was doing.  I came upon the story of Jokia again (the blind elephant Diana and I worked with ) and as I read it I realized that as tragic as her story was….. how lucky she is to be saved from such a terrible fate and how my problem is VERY insignificant compared to Jokia’s vision loss.  Also I can’t help but think what pain that beautiful girl had to endure at the hands of her “keepers”.

Her story is below taken from the website.  The photos above are of Jokia sitting and acting cute for me and Diana on such a HOT HOT day and me bathing her.  The photo below is from the ENF website

Needless to say, Jokia has now become the newest foster member of my “herd” along with Max for the next 3 years.  Jody who is her wonderful caretaker will be updating me on Jokia’s progress during the years to come!

— Jokia —

Photo from Elephant Nature Foundation website

Jokia was born around 1960 in a Karen village along the border of Thailand and Burma. She was rescued by Lek in 1999, and thanks for funding her rescue go to Amanda De Normanville and friends. Her name is a Rakhine word that means ‘eye from heaven’. Jokia’s story is one of the saddest stories of all the elephants residing at Elephant Nature Park.

During her younger years, Jokia worked in the logging trade to support the Karen family who owned her. However, in 1989 the logging ban in Thailand left Jokia and many other elephants unemployed. The owners were left with no source of income. The expense of owning a large animal with a huge appetite was more than they could afford. Eventually the family sold her to an illegal logging camp. was here that Jokia’s tragedy would unfold.

After a few years working illegal logging, Jokia became pregnant. She was forced to work her entire pregnancy. While pulling a large log uphill, wearing heavy logging chains, she gave birth to her baby. It rolled down the hill behind her. She was not allowed to stop working to tend to her newborn, to see if it was alive or not. By the time they returned to the baby, it was dead. After that, Jokia refused to work. She was depressed and heartbroken. The mahout used physical threats, but still she refused. Finally the mahout used his slingshot and shot rocks at her repeatedly until she was blinded in one eye. Jokia became resentful and dangerous. She worked for a few more weeks until her sadness and anger overcame her again. She hit her owner. The owner, who had no sympathy for Jokia, soon became impatient and decided a completely blind elephant might be more submissive. He shot her remaining eye with a bow and arrow.

Once completely blind she was forced back to work, but the owner’s idea backfired. Jokia became very stubborn. She would swing her trunk at people, and not respond to commands. She didn’t trust anyone and didn’t feel confident with her surroundings.

When Lek first came across Jokia, she was on a Jumbo Express. She heard an elephant, roaring and trumpeting in pain and anger. She followed the noise and saw a man beating Jokia very badly. Her body was covered with infected wounds and scars from past beatings. She had tears running down from her blinded eye and empty socket. Lek couldn’t believe the condition of this blind elephant.

Lek tracked down the owner, who agreed to sell Jokia. When Jokia finally made it to her first home with ENP, Elephant Haven, she seemed to know her life had changed forever. After an adjustment period, Jokia grew accustomed to her new surroundings and finally made friends with Mae Perm. Although Jokia will always be in a dark world, she has a best friend to protect and guide her. Now the two girls are inseparable, often accompanied by the young Hope and sometimes Somboon, both whom Jokia also feels comfortable with.


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About Sandra Miller

My name is Sandra Miller and I love to ART. I enjoy my studio and home in beautiful Portland Oregon with my husband Steve and our charming Finnish Lapphund dog named Ihana