Outpouring of $1.1m donations saves world’s first elephant hospital

Outpouring of donations totaling $1.1 million dollars has saved a struggling elephant foundation in Thailand, the group’s founder said to dpa on Monday.
“I am very grateful, I couldn’t believe the figure at first,’’ said Soraida Salwala from Friends of the Asian Elephant.
She said that the cash could extend the foundation’s operations for another three years.
Last week, Soraida wrote a letter addressed to her foundation’s committee, saying they may be forced to close down due to lack of funding and personnel.
They received an unexpected outpouring of donations after Soraida posted the letter on social media.
The elephant is a national animal of Thailand, which has some 3,000 domesticated elephants in addition to 3,000 wild ones.
Over nearly 25 years, the foundation has treated more than 4,000 sick elephants at the world’s first Asian elephant hospital, which it established in 1993, Soraida said in her letter.
Located in the province of Lampang, 600 kilometres north of Bangkok, the foundation closed down its Bangkok office seven years ago to save costs.
“We are now 15 people, two veterinarians, me, and elephant caretakers,’’ Soraida said, adding that the foundation is in urgent need of finance and administrative staff.
In spite of the new funding, Soraida said it is quite challenging to recruit staff due to the foundation’s distant location.
Friends of the Asian Elephant are a Non-Governmental Organisation funded exclusively through donations.