From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2005:
KHAO LAK, Thailand–Elephants, the totems of Buddhism and
Thailand, were among the heroes of both the December 26 tsunami and
“After the tsunami, reports circulated that elephants became
superheroes, snatching up people with their trunks and pulling them
from harm’s way,” wrote Denver Post correspondent Jeremy Meyer.
“The owners of eight elephants who live in a tourist camp
near one of the worst- hit areas on Thailand’s southwestern coast say
they witnessed no pachyderm heroics,” Meyer continued, “but Chain
Usak Jongkrit,” one of their mahouts, “believes they may have tried
to warn people of the impending disaster.
“Early in the morning they started making an unusual sound,”
Jongkrit told Meyer through an interpreter.
“Five minutes before the tsunami hit,” Meyer wrote, “the
elephants, secured by chains around their front ankles, began
screaming again. One broke free and ran uphill. Another also
bolted, carrying tourists.”
“If the elephants didn’t react to the tsunami, more people
would have died,” Jongkrit said. “People saw them running and knew
something was wrong.”