What happens when this 7-year-old elephant reunites with its mom? Love wins.

7-year-old elephant Me­Bai hadn't seen her mother in over three years.

But that didn't matter when they were finally reunited. Their bond was immediately visible to everyone watching — and mesmerizing to the millions who tuned in after their video hit the web.


GIF from ElephantNews/YouTube.

Why? Maybe it was the overwhelming cuteness of it all. Maybe it was the incredible story. Or maybe it was the quiet beauty of a creature whose instincts to mother, love, and nurture know no bounds.

But behind the video — before the joyous squeals and the affectionate intertwining of trunks — is a dark and ugly backstory.

Me­Bai was recently rescued from her life as a slave to the Thai tourist industry, where she was forced to carry tourists for hours at a time.


Photo by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images.

There are thousands of others just like her that haven't yet been saved.

Elephants like MeBai are taken from their mothers at an early age and forced to march with heavy tourists strapped to their backs long before their bodies are strong enough to handle the rigors of such a job.

If you want to see how bad it really is, take a look at this photograph. (You probably shouldn't.)

For years and years, they're bull­hooked. They're over­worked. They're underfed.

And worst of all? They might be the lucky ones.

In other parts of the world — parts much closer to home than Thailand — elephants are subject to entirely different kinds of torture.

Photo by Angela N./Flickr.

We think of zoos as conservationist habitats — safe harbors for the hunted and the threatened. But the truth is, many elephants in zoos around the world are kept isolated and alone for years at a time.

It's enough to drive anyone insane.

Elephants are famously mistreated and abused in some of the world's biggest circuses (though it's worth noting that Ringling Bros. has promised to phase out elephant acts by 2018).

The common factor, no matter where these elephants end up, is that if you want to make 6,000­-pound wild animals do your bidding, you first have to snuff out their spirit. You have to break them emotionally, which can cause these gentle creatures to suffer from severe PTSD and depression.

Is the problem too big to overcome? Thanks to organizations like the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand, the answer is a resounding "No."

Spend enough time reading articles or watching graphic videos, and you just might start to feel like the elephants: Hopeless. Overwhelmed. Powerless.

But places like the Elephant Nature Park are doing amazing work, fighting to rescue these majestic animals. And it's helping.

Here's the proof: Kham Paam, a battered but rehabilitated elephant, became a loving nanny to a young member of her new herd at the Elephant Nature Park.

Then there's Seree, another tourist-industry rescue, who joined a brand-new family back in November after escaping a life of hard labor.

And, of course, there's MeBai, seen here with her mother. Reunited at last.

GIF from Elephant News/YouTube.

While elephants like MeBai may never be able to return to the wild, they've been able to find happiness in their new homes.

Because of their unending capacity for love and compassion, somehow they're able to put these atrocities behind them and start again.

This video of Me­Bai reuniting with her mother is, in many ways, proof that love really does conquer all — and that the elephants won't go down without a fight.

As long as some of us are willing to fight along with them.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

As it turns out, underdog stories can have cats as the main character.

Purrington Cat Lounge, where "adoptable cats roam freely and await your visit" and patrons can pay a small entry fee for the chance to sip coffee alongside feline friends, boasted legendary adoption rates since its conception in January 2015.


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