Thailand has fewer than 10,000 elephants left. More of them are living in captivity to serve the tourist industry under grim conditions than are living free in what is left of their wild habitat. Conservation efforts need to be focused on all surviving members of the species, captive and free, but they need to take into account the inextricable entanglement of human and nonhuman animal lives in Thailand today. There is an opportunity for rescuing, rehabilitating and reintroducing captive elephants to the wild with the help of the traditional expertise of a mahout culture that has been elephant-keeping for centuries. We advocate a state of wildness that is meaningful to the elephants and can be attained in a way in which both elephant and human cultures are valued. This would be far better than the status quo for the elephants, restoring to them a life worth living.