Animal lovers all over the world form long-lasting bonds with all types of creatures, but someone who befriends a herd of elephants is not something you hear about every day.
In Thailand, animal welfare volunteer Darrick has done just that and has formed an intense bond with the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park. He has a great passion for all the elephants in the park but a soft spot for one in particular—Kham La.
When his special friend hears him approaching, Kham La can’t contain her excitement, and she and the other elephants in the herd do something quite spectacular. The internet is going wild to see videos of this memorable meeting.
Spending so much time with the animals has given Darrick the opportunity to be an integral member of their daily lives. Over time, they’ve built a deep bond and a relationship that’s based on mutual trust as well as loads of hugs, kisses, and games.
All the majestic giants in the park are fond of Darrick, but Kham La is especially fond of him and has formed an unusually strong attachment. When she hears Darrick calling, she becomes completely animated. In fact, the entire herd gets worked up by his arrival.
The whole herd comes running when Darrick does his signature call, with Kham La in the lead, of course. She runs right up to Darrick for a “hug.” They instantly identify Darrick by his familiar call and welcome him warmly as if he were one of them.
Elephants are wild animals, but they behave with Darrick as if he were a member of their herd. It’s thanks to Darrick’s patience and empathy that he has been able to build this unique relationship with the elephants.
The Elephant World website claims that this behaviour of elephants towards humans isn’t that unheard of.
The site explains that there have been many incidents, historically, in which elephants have stepped in to assist their human friends, for example, during natural disasters or when protecting them from other animals—even other elephants—when needed. However, this information is not new or surprising to animal researchers; the elephant is renowned for being an empathetic, wise creature that is able to undergo the same range of emotions we humans do.
When it comes to Darrick and his beloved herd at the Elephant Nature Park, it appears that the joy of the experience and the love are mutual.
Here, Darrick gets to be up close and personal with earth’s most majestic beasts, and the animals get to have a closer look at us humans, too.
Play the sweet video below to see their heartwarming greeting.