Last June, behind a stadium in the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, I stood in front of a young elephant that was chained to a pole. His leg was swollen and bent unnaturally. He had a bloody sore at his temple from lying on the hard ground. His eyes wouldn’t focus.
Gluay Hom, the four-year-old elephant at Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, was too unwell to perform tricks in the facility’s daily elephant shows. At that point, photographer Kirsten Luce and I had been in Thailand for a month, reporting a story on the captive wildlife tourism industry. We’d seen hundreds of tethered elephants in camps and paddocks around the country.
Gluay Hom was in the worst shape we’d seen. We