Burm and Emily are two extremely passionate people who want to change the way elephants are being treated in Thailand. At the age of three young elephants are taken away from their mothers and go through what is called “breaking”. Elephants are very smart animals but do not like listening to people, breaking consists of traumatizing the elephant so much by beating it and hurting it that it will listen to you and do what you ask, like lift up its foot. Many elephants have died in the process, refusing to give in to the authority of humans. This method is used in Thailand instead of a positive reinforcement method due to time; breaking takes around a week whereas positive reinforcement can take years. There are also no rules in Thailand against animal violence so breaking is not against the law. Due to tourism with elephants being one of the main incomes of Thailand it is impossible to imagine a complete end to this however BEES aim is to try and make this activity better and more elephant friendly. Their goal for the future is to have a large area of fenced off land where the elephants can go and be let free during the low season or when they are retired. Right now they lack the appropriate funds to make that idea a reality and lack even enough to create a foundation in order to raise the money needed. For the moment all they can do is rent out elephants and make a difference in their own small way. BEES rents the elephants rather than buy them because otherwise it would support the “elephant trade”. Where people take baby elephants when they are small enough and sell them off to whoever needs them. If people buy more, they will get more to sell. Renting the elephants enables BEES to help the elephants by giving them time to rest and recuperate from the tiresome business of tourism. They let the elephants roam free in the forest next to their property and take them home at around 4 where they feed them treats of sugarcane, pumpkin, corn stalks and guavas. For the night the elephants have to be chained by their foot to a tree so that they do not run away during the night and go raid a farmers cornfield. Burm and Emily hate having to see their elephants chained but it is a necessity while they do not have a fenced off area for them to roam free and where they will cause no damage.
BEES relationship with the elephants is of respect, the elephants love them and listen to them without the need of a stick or bull hook.