Monday, March 13, 2017

National Elephant Day (Thailand)

  1. On 26 May 1998, the Thai government declared the 13th of March to annually be the Thai National Elephant Day or Chang Thai Day (Thai: วันช้างไทย). 
  2. The observance was suggested by the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand and submitted to the Coordinating Subcommittee for the Conservation of Thai Elephants. 
  3. The date was chosen because the Royal Forest Department designated the white elephant as the national animal of Thailand on 13 March 1963.
  4. It is also called Chang Thai Day, to draw attention to the importance of human-elephant relationship in Thailand since Thai people have had a close-knit relationship with elephants since ancient times, with the elephant playing a significant role in transportation, labor and battle.
  5. In Thailand, white elephants (ช้างเผือก, chang phueak) are considered sacred and are a symbol of royal power.
  6. Considered the national animal of Thailand, the elephant faced threats to its existence because of habitat invasion by humans and climate changes, amongst the other factors. 
  7. The number of Thai elephants has been reduced from 100,000 to 2,000–3,000 wild elephants and about 2,700 domesticated elephants over the past 100 years.
  8. In the Elephant Kraal Pavillion in the ancient historical city in Ayutthaya province, the elephants are treated to a huge feast of fruits and vegetables, and are even given blessings by a monk during a religious ceremony.
  9. In Pattaya’s Nong Nooch Botanic Garden, the luck ritual included 75 elephants and their mahouts, who also took part in a grand elephant procession at the park.
  10. Some elephant parks will even hold Buddhist rituals where the animals are thoroughly scrubbed and showered before monks are invited to perform ceremonies to wipe away bad luck and wish for good luck for the elephants and their mahouts in the coming year.
  11. Special events are held at a number of venues in northern Thailand including the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre and the Elephant Nature Park.
  12. A mahout is an elephant rider, trainer, or keeper. 


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