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Love Animal House Rescue Garden (AHRG).

WE ALL KNOW HOW important a little TLC (Tender Loving Care) is from time to time. Just as it is important for humans, so also is it for animals, especially those which have been abused and exploited from birth. Nowhere will animals in need get more TLC than at the Love Animal House Rescue Garden (AHRG).

Love Animal House Rescue Garden is situated on 500 rai of land in Mae Rim, just north of Chiangmai. There, under the caring leadership and guidance of Marianne Willemse, over 130 animals have found a home with an abundance of TLC, provided by Marianne and the numerous volunteers at the AHRG. Animals range all the way from geese to horses, and Rhesus monkeys to world famous Teddy the Bear - an omnivore, weighing in at 300 pounds of love, who recently celebrated his 7th birthday

The lake at the entrance to AHRG provides water for the gardens, growing grass and elephant food. Cows and buffalo graze around the area, keeping the grass trimmed and providing natural fertilizer for the plant life.

"The Bear Hugs Club " is now open to family membership. Members and volunteers believe in hug therapy and getting back to nature through their association with these animals. They are presently raising funds to bring a blind elephant to AHRG for hugs and herbal treatments. Members will give hug therapy, wash and massage the elephants as part of their weekly activities. Club members have participated in various activities on weekends, such as art exhibitions, vaccinating stray dogs for rabies, and in March was Teddy's birthday celebration.

Only Club members along with AHRG volunteers are allowed to stroll the grounds because of the temperaments of the animal residents. Visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times for most of these animals have been mistreated in the past and many cannot even get along with each other. The guide knows the personality of each animal and can lower the stress levels by avoiding awkward confrontations. Here, more than anywhere else, animal rights take precedence over human rights.

The Rhesus monkeys, all native to Thailand, were illegally taken from the forests and rescued by the Thai Forestry Department. These animals can never be returned to the wild, because they have lost survival instincts. They need lifetime care and commitment, and the Forestry Department has no funds to provide for their care. The zoos are also burdened by having too many animals to support, so an NGO like AHRG provides a very necessary service.

Most of these animals were trapped when quite young, and many have only experienced cruelty at the hands of humans. Like one male monkey who wants to mate but has no mentor to advise him that stealing a female's food and biting her is not the proper way to treat a lady you want to make love with. Another male, "Jaws", has had a very rough life. For six years, he was confined in a wooden box, with only a peephole to view the outside world. When he was rescued, his spine was curved and bent. After two years at the AHRG, his coat is thick and healthy, but he still retains a stiff neck.

AHRG employs color therapy to relieve stress for both the animals and members. Every monkey cage is colored to reflect the energy and personality of the animal. Like "Somsi", who is very intelligent, will have a cage in yellow. After living in a cage at a temple for six years, Somsi was only used to humans without hair. Somsi is still frightened when she sees humans with long hair. "Coco's" color scheme is pink, reflecting her very playful personality. Coco likes to "read" at the library sala near her tree.

Developments are under way at AHRG. In the near future, there will be a museum dedicated to a famous monk. An herbal doctor with over 20 years of study and application will be on hand to treat Thai-speaking patients. A souvenir shop, tea shop and vegetarian restaurant complex will be opening soon.

How can you support the AHRG? Buy souvenir T-shirts for yourself, your family and friends. Two different designs are available at Gems Travel next to Shere Shiraz Restaurant on Soi 6, the soi connecting Changklan and Charoenprathet Road. Our community is indeed fortunate to have someone like Marianne and the Love Animal House Rescue Garden to repair the damage done to our animal friends. Your support is greatly needed.

The Bear Hugs Club can be contacted through Director Marianne Willemese at loveanimalclub@yahoo.com.

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