Ayutthaya, Thailand: (World View Media, Reuters)
Thailand held a fruit banquet for dozens of elephants in the ancient capital Ayutthaya on Saturday (March 13) with hopes that coronavirus travel restrictions would ease soon and foreign visitors will return and revive the tourism industry.
The feast is part of a celebration to mark Elephant Day and in past years a big draw for foreign tourists.
“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. We hope that the tourists will help us and all 3800 (domesticated) elephants to survive,” said Ittipan Kharwlamai, General Manager of the Royal Elephant Kraal and Village located north of Bangkok.
The tourism-reliant country has yet to lift a travel ban imposed last April to curb the outbreak, keeping most foreign travellers and investors away.
Elephants have been a source of national pride and cultural identity for Thailand throughout its history, used for labour, transport and in battlefield triumphs by warriors and kings. But animal rights group have long been calling for the elephant camps in Thailand to end animal shows and rides, branding the shows a form of animal abuse.
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