For the British-born animal activist, getting down and dirty is part of her daily routine, and she was on her knees to tend to the older female elephantâ€™s foot.
Wassana was once a work elephant forced to haul heavy logs deep in the jungle near Thailandâ€™s northern border with war-torn Myanmar (formerly Burma). One day more than a decade ago she stepped on a land mine, which damaged part of one of her front feet. She still walks with a limp.
Every day Ms. Connor, who runs an elephant sanctuary she set up near the historical northern Thai town of Sukhothai, cleans and dresses the animalâ€™s foot. She also tends to the ailments and infirmities of the 10 other rescued jumbos, many of them older, in her care.
â€œSheâ€™s a beautiful animal,â€ notes Connor as she applies some salve to Wassana. â€œYou see their scars and injuries, but you still canâ€™t fathom what theyâ€™ve been through.â€
Wassana, whose name means â€œFortuneâ€ in Thai, endures the treatment with stoic resilience, at one point balling up the tip of her trunk and placing it in her mouth the way some people bite on a forefinger when theyâ€™re in pain.
â€œThis is hurting her, and she could easily flick me aside, but she doesnâ€™t,â€ Connor observes. â€œI really do think she knows weâ€™re trying to help her.â€