Oftentimes, we tend to forget that animals are our friends. Sure, some of them may seem big and intimidating, but they have no intention to harm us. If an animal attack happens, it’s our fault – we either trespass inside their territory, endanger their young ones, or they’re simply hungry because we’ve destroyed their ecosystem and food sources. Animals are noble creatures, incapable of wicked thoughts.
Out of all the noble animals, elephants are perhaps the most lovable of all. And out of all the elephants, the biggest and noblest hero is one fellow that goes by the name of Ning Nong. During the devastating Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, this brave creature did something a little girl will never forget. Take a look at how a baby elephant managed to save a life and put his own well-being behind the urge to save someone smaller and weaker than him.
Click ‘Start Slideshow’ and let’s take a look at what happened that fateful day.
A gem of the East
Thailand is one of the most amazing countries in the world, due to its incredible amount of biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes. Thus, it’s no surprise that people from all over the world flock to all their cities and resorts, just to get a glimpse of the unique scenery. An experience like that is pretty much unforgettable for as long as you live. If the natural wonders aren’t enough for you, then all the amazing nightlife and the smiling people will surely change your mind.
Unlike many other countries in the area, the people of Thailand have managed to find a way to use the natural wonders of their country for the sake of tourism, but without destroying anything in the process. Because of that, even the most hardcore nature-oriented activist can respect their ways, as they are able to fuse culture and the existence living creatures. Out of all the animals that are inseparable from Thai culture, one stands out in particular.
Can you guess which lovable mammal is that? Press ‘next’ to find out.
Big babies with trunks
We’re talking about elephants, of course. Throughout the country, you can find thousands of elephants playfully roaming the forests or the open fields. Unlike any other place, this East Asian country was able to devote numerous hours and resources into protecting their beloved elephants. They aren’t only protecting them. They are able to live in peace with elephants and be basically best friends. However, when you take a deeper dive, you will realize how deeply embedded these creatures are in their culture.
Historically, elephants have always been held in high regard throughout the country. This is mostly because Thailand is a Buddhist country, and in that particular religion elephants are considered sacred animals worthy of all the respect one can provide them with. Besides, Thailand’s flag is a white elephant on a background of scarlet color. You can find elephants in art depictions on basically every corner. It was precisely this part of Thai culture that has fascinated the Owen family.
That is what made them take a trip to Thailand. Press next to keep reading this amazing story!
A vacation to remember
In 2004, little Amber Owen was having the time of her life. She was away in a tropical paradise for an entire month. Most of us would kill for an opportunity like this one. Now image you’re a little kid again and that you’re discovering the world for the very first time. The Far East is always a sight to behold and experience, for people of all ages and walks of life. Amber was ecstatic because the opportunity she had, as she couldn’t wait to find out how warm the Pacific Ocean was. The British family chose an ideal time for the holiday as well, as the winter months in Britain are awful.
The family from Milton Keynes consisted of Amber, her mother Samantha and her stepdad Eddie. It was their first time going so far from home. They did go to Spain and France before but never experienced an entirely different culture. What better way to spend Christmas than with your loved ones and in a tropical paradise.
It was an experience like no others, during which little Amber discovered something that brought her incredible joy. Keep reading!
A new friend
Since Amber was eight years old, it was obvious that she wanted to blow off some steam from the exhausting school weeks and have some fun. Most kids around her age meet peer on such vacations and establish close, but temporary bonds between each other. Amber too was eager to experience something like that but was initially disappointed because of the fact that there were almost no kids around her. However, she befriended an unlikely fellow.
The guy she befriended was four years old, but there was one significant detail about him – he was an elephant. The baby Ning Nong was a fun-loving, cheerful and always hyperactive Indian elephant. Initially, they met when Amber managed to persuade her mom to let her ride him. Immediately, upon mounting the gray elephant, she felt a connection. She could feel that the elephant was genuinely happy because he got to know her.
As days went by, their friendship flourished…let’s find out more in the next slide.
The two kids connected well, despite the fact that they were from different species. They both had that pure love for fun. Such a feeling doesn’t need a language to be felt by the other person. Thus, with every day, both Amber and Ning Nong felt happier and happier. She used to spend entire days riding the baby elephant, and he loved the fact that she was so gentle with him. Elephants when someone scratches their back and feeds them bananas.
Most tourists ride elephants only as a one-time thing, but Ning Nong actually got to know Amber, as she returned on a daily basis. Her parents loved the fact that she was having fun and they thanked the elephant trainer for being so kind to their little girl. Ning Nong had a ritual of wrapping his trunk around Amber’s shoulders as if he was hugging her. It was almost the end of their holiday.
But the most significant point of Ning Nong’s and Amber’s friendship was yet to come…
A decisive moment
Boxing Day has arrived, and Amber was eager to have breakfast as fast as she can, to run towards the beach immediately after. Her trusted companion was waiting for her, and she was ready to start her day in the best possible way. She took a stroll around the shore, but something felt weird, and Amber just couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Usually, Ning Nong was eager to run towards the water, but today – he was a little hesitant. She thought it was probably a bad day for him and brushed it off.
Instead of worrying, she scratched his back and fed him bananas, but Ning Nong still didn’t want to go anywhere near the water. At one point, Amber thought she heard a tremor of some sorts, but it probably could have been one of the nearby cruisers or something. Suddenly, she thoughts she saw the water “disappearing” back into the ocean. It was obvious that something was going on and that it wasn’t a regular average day. She could even see fish stranded on the ground where the water once was.
Click on the next slide to see what was the cause of this weird event.
Running for cover
The water in the ocean was still gone, and Ning Nong was more anxious than ever. He wanted to run away and kept slightly jumping because of something. Amber wasn’t scared because of it. She was more worried about her beloved elephant friend. There were no more bananas left, so she couldn’t find anything to calm him down with. The trainer was also confused, as he had never seen Ning Nong act that way.
While the men were picking up stranded fish in the water, Amber thought she saw a blue line growing bigger and bigger. Initially, it didn’t seem like much, but it didn’t slow down, nor it shrink. With every second, Ning Nong was growing more and more uneasy, but then it hit Amber. Literally. A huge wave smashed itself over the entire beach, washing away people sunbathing and swimming in the shallow water. Due to the sheer force, Amber thought she was gone and that there was no hope of salvation.
However, her estimations were wrong. Keep on reading to see why.
Life or death
When the first wave hit, Amber thought she would be swept or that Ning Nong would get so scared that he would throw her off his back and run away. Her best bet was to cling to his back and hope for the best. With every moment, she was expecting the young elephant to start going berserk, but he didn’t even move in order to protect Amber from the waves. As the next one came, he shielded both of them by digging his feet into the sand.
The second wave receded, so Ning Nong wanted to make use of the opportunity and run away. Instead of running like a wild beast, he walked at a fast pace amidst the ripped trees and bodies all around the place. He didn’t want to stop until he was sure that he and Amber were safe and sound. When he reached a wall around 100m from the shore, he gently kneeled to help Amber get off him. The four-year-old Ning Nong was a hero!
However, Amber was quite afraid, as she didn’t see her mom and dad anywhere…Press ‘next’ to read more.
Amidst the chaos
“Amber, Amber!”, Samantha Owens shouted through the chaotic scene on the streets. Nothing was the same, and in ten minutes, the entire resort city of Phuket was almost erased by the destructive ways. Samantha luckily found Amber walking around and searching for her and hugged her stronger than ever before. Thus, she and Eddy were able to get back to the hotel to prepare for the next wave. Thankfully, their room was on the first floor, so there was some hope they will make it. And make it they did, despite the ground floor being leveled by the tsunami.
Samantha couldn’t believe when Amber told her about the situation with Ning Nong. The elephant could just have thrown her off and ran for cover, but he refused to give up. Risking his own well-being, the baby creature didn’t want to let go, Amber, until he was secure that they were safe. The little girl owes him his life and still remembers that day, 14 years later. In a Tsunami that took 300.000 lives in all of Asia, Amber survived solely because of the quick thinking of a brave baby elephant.
A true hero. Keep reading!
14 years later, the 22-year-old Amber is a fashion stylist intern, and her life story was made into a play. Michael Morpurgo heard about what happened to Amber on the news and was immediately inspired. The show is called Running Wild and shows the tender love between a little girl and her elephant companion. Such a thing is unique and unbelievable, with a strong effect on everyone who has seen the show. Bravery, resilience and quick thinking saved a young life in a dire situation. That wasn’t luck. Those were heroics.
What does Amy plan to do? Well, her wish is to return to Thailand as soon as possible and visit the same beach that almost cost her her life. Through some news outlets, she found out that Ning Nong is still alive and well and is chilling in another resort. Since elephants are known for their incredible memory, she is confident that he will recognize her and be rejoiced by her presence. What remains to be seen is precisely that, so let’s hope that Amber and her savior will be reunited soon enough. Such bonds are meant never to be broken.