By Vorasit Satienlerk and Juarawee Kittisilpa
CHONBURI, Thailand (Reuters) – Nearly 60 elephants enjoyed a huge fruit banquet at a Thai botanical park on Sunday as the Southeast Asian country marked its annual Elephant Day.
Elephants are a source of national pride and cultural identity for Thailand and are used for labour, transport, and battlefield triumphs by warriors and kings.
The event is commonly observed in various other parts of the country, but due to the pandemic and economic woes, some have scaled down celebrations this year.
At Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in eastern Chonburi province, elephants were treated to two tons of fruits and vegetables laid out on an eight metre wide table.
With the absence of foreign tourists for a long time, the buffet and some visitors brought some joy to the heavyweights.
“Of course, they get bored because they get used to being with people. That’s why you see our elephants are very friendly to everyone,” said Kampon Tansacha, president of Nong Nooch Tropical Garden.
“People enjoy seeing elephants, give them food, especially bananas that they like and they look all healthy and happy”.
Animal rights groups have long been calling for the elephant camps in Thailand to end animal shows and rides, branding the shows as a form of animal abuse.
(Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Michael Perry)