Two, two-year old baby elephants embraced the World Cup spirit and played soccer at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. Both Dok Geaw, the male, and Thong Ae, the female, were orphaned at a young age.

Dok Geaw was only 4 months old when his mother died. She had been forced to carry logs, and giving birth caused infection and a prolapsed uterus. Yet despite this, she never received the rest and care she needed. She was put back to work until she was so sick that  the Elephant Conservation Hospital couldn’t save her. Luckily, Dok Geaw entered the safety of the sanctuary and was nursed as a baby until he could join a herd.

Thong Ae entered the sanctuary with her nanny elephants, the name given to elephants who act as a surrogate mothers for the orphans. She and Dok Geaw have been playmates for over a year now, and have developed a wonderful sibling relationship. Thankfully they were rescued at a very young age, escaping a life of abuse.

Unfortunately, it’s still common for elephants to be legally and illegally used for logging, tourism, forced to endure unbelievable torture. While Thong Ae and Dok Geaw have fun playing soccer with each other, enslaved elephants in Thailand are being painted with flags of countries, mounted by jockeys, and forced to play soccer while being hit with bull hooks. It’s barbaric and cruel.

Elephants deserve a life of play in their natural habitat. They should be free to practice their own soccer moves like rolling over to cover the ball, dribbling in water, carrying the ball between their trunk and mouth, and randomly kicking the ball with no goal in sight.

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