Ayutthaya celebrates Elephant Day
Elaborate feast draws local visitors, handlers hope to greet foreigners again soon
13 Mar 2021 at 16:30
AYUTTHAYA: Dozens of elephants were treated to a fruit banquet on Saturday in the country’s ancient capital, continuing an annual event that has been a big draw for foreign tourists in the hope they will return soon.
The feast marked Elephant Day, held every March 13 to celebrate elephants as a source of national pride and cultural identity. Throughout the history of Siam and Thailand, they have been used for labour, transport and in battlefield triumphs by warriors and kings.
“We, the elephant people, are hoping that the government will open up the country (soon) to welcome foreign tourists in order for them to bring in income so that we can pay for the elephant food and compensation for their handlers,” said Ittipan Kharwlamai, general manager of the Royal Elephant Kraal and Village in Ayutthaya.
“We hope that tourists will help us and all 3,800 (domesticated) elephants to survive,” he said.
The country has yet to lift the travel ban imposed last April to curb the coronavirus outbreak, keeping most foreign travellers and investors away. However, plans are being made to cautiously open up in October to vaccinated foreign visitors, starting with the tourist islands of Phuket and Koh Samui.
A crowd greets elephants and colorfully dressed mahouts before a festive breakfast of fruits and vegetables for the animals at the Elephant Royal Kraal Village in Ayutthaya. (AFP Photo)