The sweet elephant in the video above is named Kham La. At not quite six years old, she’s still a youngster.
It’s obvious Kham La’s got a thing for one person in particular at her home at Elephant Nature Park. His name is Darrick, a tractor driver, and she rushes—slowly, elephant-style—out to say hi when she spots him every morning on his rounds. Her herd tags along behind. We’re not sure if this is “love,” as the video claims, but it’s certainly an unmistakable bond.
Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Chang Mai province in northern Thailand. They offer a natural environment for rescued elephants, dogs, cats, buffalo, and other creatures. Visitors can feed, walk with, and observe the elephants as they go about their day. As an added benefit, the park’s elephants don’t have to carry people on their backs, unlike at other preserves.
Kham La was born at a trekking camp in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, to a working mom, Mae Sai Ngern. Taken from her mother, she was “broken” so she would submit to human control, and then trained as a performing elephant.
After being rescued and sent to Elephant Nature Park, Kham La was eventually reunited with her mom, but the elder elephant was too traumatized to reattach. In the meantime, other nanny elephants are reportedly considering taking the youngster under their wing. Either way, there’s always Darrick.
Update, Jan. 20, 2016: This article originally included an “average life expectancy” for Asian elephants, but that number has been removed because there are many different ways to measure elephant life expectancy, including in captivity or in the wild.