BURI RAM: A fifth grade student in Satuek district has become a social media celebrity after switching to the family elephant for her daily commute to school to save fuel costs.
Wisanchol Yongram, 38, confirmed to reporters that his daughter, 11-year old Pupae, was the girl seen on the TikTok account @Ole FcThailand riding the 25-year old male pachyderm, named Ole, to school.
The video has attracted significant interest from around the country, with users of the short-form video platform commenting positively on the heartwarming bond between the girl and her elephant.
Mr Wisanchol, who works as a mahout, said his household has four elephants, including Ole, a 22-year-old cow called Wassana and her two calves, four-year old Ngamchok and two-month-old Ngamta. The animals previously put on shows for tourists at an elephant kraal in Ayutthaya until the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Yongram family to return to Buri Ram.
According to the mahout, Pupae has a close bond with Ole after spending time with the elephant since she was small, feeding and even bathing him, and has been riding him since she was six.
The fifth grader said she feels a strong tie to Ole and aspires to be a veterinarian when she grows up so she can care for the elephants.
Pupae said she was riding the animal to Samrong Piman School, about 500 metres from her home, because her family was trying to save on fuel costs.
While admitting that her schoolmates were initially stunned by the appearance of the three-metre-tall animal, she said they have since grown accustomed to Ole’s presence and are reassured by the close attention Mr Wisanchol pays to the animal.