When Darrick Thomson returned to Thailand after almost a year away in Cambodia, he was looking forward to reuniting with  his family. And reunite he did in Chiang Mai, his family of elephants recognizing him standing in a river bed, thus beginning an emotional outreach, screaming along the way. They wanted to feel the warmth and touch of their friend, Thomson.  You can watch the video that has mesmerized millions on Twitter below.

Darrick Thomson is not your ordinary fellow.  He is a former firefighter from Toronto, Canada who a while back found a new love; animals; elephants to be specific.  He calls them "angels of the forest".  Thomson had gone to Cambodia to help with Kaavan the so called "world's loneliest elephant".  Kaavan was isolated in the Islamabad Zoo with no space to roam.  Once the story broke celebrities such as Cher got involved and made Kaavan a household name.  Thomson was critical in creating a 30 acre habitat for Kaavan and to have transported her to the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.  She now roams happily with other elephants.

His mission completed, Thomson returned to Thailand where he along with his wife, Lek Chailert, run the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary, located at the Elephant Nature Park, is where 109 rescued elephants reside. Thomson describes the rescue facility as a “space for them to live and abide forever,” noting that it allows the elephants to rehabilitate and bond as friends and family.

Upon his return to the sanctuary, Thomson stood in the shallow waters of a river stream and began yelling the names of the elephants.  In the video the elephants recognize their friend from afar and begin screaming and charging toward him.  As they approach him, the elephants surround the man seemingly in an embrace, ears flapping and trunks raised.  Thomson in turn touches their trunks and strokes their bodies, at one point completely surrounded by the giant mammals.  Watching the video you can almost feel love emanating from the screen.

Why has this short clip captured the hearts of millions?  Because human beings contain an intrinsic conflict in their lives.  They love meat and are ready to accept the killing of animals, as long as they can imagine such animals to be nothing more than red protein. However, simultaneously, the subconscious logical part of our brain knows something is afoul in the paradigm.  We instinctively know animals are more than just flesh. Everyone has watched a dog in his happiness as his owner approaches.  But we are afraid to admit what we all know to be the truth, as the truth means sacrificing meat, something we all want to consume.

When we see in live action love, caring, memory, endearment by animals it makes us emotional and simultaneously uncomfortable.  This is the great conflict that is embedded in most humans alive today.  Recognizing the truth yet refusing to affirm it.  Elephants are indeed "angels of the forest" and sentient beings with all the emotions we humans covet for our own species.  And as seen from the video, they know and feel love.  One sunny day we will enshrine that love on to all the animals on Earth and the world will be as one again.