Lek Chailert was born in a rural village in the north of Thailand. She grew up with little in the way of modern privileges and technology, knowing only that she cared for elephants and wanted to make a difference in the world.
Lek started advocating for better treatment of animals during the 1990s. Specifically, she voiced her concerns in regards to the phajaan, or crush, a procedure used to break the spirit of baby elephants for use in logging and tourism.
Due to her efforts and the impact they had on the Thai economy, she was seen as an embarrassment to the Thai Government and Royal Family, leading to her family disowning her.
Later, after she was disowned by her family, Lek decided to continue to help elephants on Thailand. Lek was incarcerated multiple times, and is officially exiled from Thailand.
Despite the challenges facing her, Lek Chailert continues to fight for her views and helps elephants. In order to provide for the elephants she cannot put into her sanctuaries, Lek will often save money to give to mahouts so they can better provide for their elephants.
Lek's actions have two meanings. First is her message of caring for others, even outside of one's own particular species. Her second message is that one should always pursue one's goals, despite of challenges. Due to her actions, she was recognized by Time Magazine in 2005 as one of "Asia's Heroes".