The full story of Hug’s rescue as told by Claudia Lifton, a kind lady who rescued him:
“In order to renew my Thai visa, I had to go to Laos before heading back to the GVI Elephant Reintroduction Project. I have always wanted to explore more of South East Asia, so I took advantage of this rare opportunity and asked for one more week off of project to see this beautiful country. What was supposed to be a simple, uneventful visa run to Laos turned into one of the oddest, and most life changing experiences. The cheapest, and (in my opinion) the best way to travel from Thailand to Laos is by boat. I fell in love with this stunning country within the first five minutes of my three day boat ride to Luang Prabang. I could never grow tired of sitting on that boat, watching the endless scenery of foggy tipped mountains and lush, exotic jungles pass by.
I have never before seen such a large mass of land so unexploited by man. It was encouraging to see small huts built into nature without destroying the scenery around them. I was impressed by the Laos people before I even met them.
Turns out my instincts were right. As soon as we arrived at our first overnight stop in the charming village of Pak Beng we were greeted by the kindest people, one of which was a young man named Bounma agreed to show me around his village. He took me to a beautiful waterfall and invited me to his home for dinner with his lovely family. The next morning the boat left for our final destination – the town of Luang Prabang, famed for its natural and man-made beauty. In just a day and a half I visited several striking Buddhist temples, reveled at the largest waterfall I have ever seen, hiked through an enchanted forest and watched an incredible sunset over the mountains from a small fisherman’s boat. I could have stayed in Luang Prabang forever, and was planning on staying for several more days before heading to Vientiane to apply for my visa, but my time was cut short by a very special little monkey. While on my way back to my hostel from Bounma’s home, I saw a three month old macaque in a small cage outside of a mechanic shop. I stopped to speak with the family that owned him and asked where they had gotten the monkey from.
They said they bought him from an illegal poacher who had killed his mother in the wild to sell the babies as pets and tourist attractions.
After much convincing, they finally agreed to let me take him for the same price they had paid for him. After much research, many phone calls and emails, and a huge stroke of luck, I finally got in touch with SayLin from ACRES Wildlife Sanctuary (now Laos Wildlife Rescue Center). I was excited to have found such a wonderful new home for the macaque, but, when I arrived back in Pak Beng from Luang Prabang, the family informed me that they had changed their minds and refused to let me take the monkey. After several hours of protest (and tears), they finally agreed to let me take the 3 month old baby in exchange for my camera. So, two nine hour boat rides, one eight hour bus ride, several sleepless nights, over two-hundred dollars, a lost (traded) camera, a run in with the Laos police and one CRAZY, unexpected adventure later, Nahuglai (which means forever loved in Laos), is finally at his forever home in Laos Wildlife Rescue Center. After a few days of veterinary care, he will be introduced to his new family of macaques with whom he will live out the rest of his life – rather than in a small cage at a mechanic shop. I am so grateful to have found such an amazing home for little Hug, and to have met the inspiring people that have dedicated their lives to the animals of Laos. SayLin is truly an inspiration, and I was honored to learn from his endless knowledge about the problems facing South East Asia’s animals. He works constantly to ensure that the animals at the sanctuary are well taken care of, and to fight against animal exploitation throughout all of South East Asia. Meeting SayLin and the rest of the dedicated people at Laos Wildlife Rescue Center, and seeing Hug go to such an amazing home was worth all of the trouble to bring him there. My trip to Laos turned into so much more than a simple visa run.
Like most things in my life, I have animals to thank for that.
Round the World Claudia Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – 09:02″
Find out how Hug is doing today with his new life at the rescue center here.