19.4 C
Sydney
Friday, December 3, 2021

Elephant Santas Spread Virus Awareness Among Thai Children

Must read

- Sponsored Ad -

Christmas and Thailand’s love of elephants combined Wednesday when four of the giant creatures dressed as Santa turned up at a school just outside Bangkok, complete with huge coronavirus masks.

- Advertisement -



An elephant from the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace, dressed in a Santa Claus costume and wearing a face mask, is greeted by students during an event to hand out masks at a school in Ayutthaya, Thailand


An elephant from the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace, dressed in a Santa Claus costume and wearing a face mask, is greeted by students during an event to hand out masks at a school in Ayutthaya, Thailand
 AFP / Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

Excited children from Jirasat Wittaya School in Ayutthaya, an hour’s drive from the capital, sang Christmas carols and lined up to have their photos taken with the animals in the annual tradition.

- Advertisement -

The elephants, Sri Mongkon, 14, Sri Raya, 6, Peter, 15, and King Kaew, 18, used their trunks to carry baskets of face masks to the youngsters and motorists outside the school.



The school visit is an annual tradition for the elephants


The school visit is an annual tradition for the elephants
 AFP / Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

- Advertisement -

English and science teacher Brett Baxter said the event brought a special kind of Christmas spirit coupled with a flavour of Thailand.

“It’s fantastic for the children. It mixes two cultures together. It’s not just about Santa Claus… the culture of Thailand is based around elephants,” he said.



The elephants handed out coronavirus masks at the school to help spread awareness of Covid-19 prevention


The elephants handed out coronavirus masks at the school to help spread awareness of Covid-19 prevention
 AFP / Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam, the country now known as Thailand, is considered the birthplace of the kingdom’s Catholic community.

European Catholic missionaries built a church on the banks of the Chao Phraya River three centuries ago.



Children and adults lined up to have their pictures taken with the elephants


Children and adults lined up to have their pictures taken with the elephants
 AFP / Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

Ittipan Paolamai, the manager of Ayutthaya’s elephant palace, where the animals are cared for, said the school visit had been held for 17 years.

“This year due to the pandemic as well as the recent outbreak, we used this opportunity to raise public awareness about the spread of Covid-19,” he told AFP.



The Christmas visit by the elephants is an annual tradition that has taken place for 17 years


The Christmas visit by the elephants is an annual tradition that has taken place for 17 years
 AFP / Lillian SUWANRUMPHA

Thailand, a country of 70 million people, has registered more than 5,700 coronavirus infections and in the past week there has been a spike of more than 1,000 cases linked to an outbreak at a Thai seafood market.

But not everyone feels the Christmas school visit is a healthy tradition.

Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a wildlife veterinarian and adviser for World Animal Protection, said bringing elephants to a school “for these kinds of public stunts is quite questionable and not acceptable”.

“Children will perceive elephants as entertainers and clowns rather than the wild animals they biologically are,” he told AFP.

The experience can be stressful for the animals, he added, and there was always the potential for accidents.

“The elephant handler has to make sure he can control the elephant… Elephants can get out of control and hurt and sometimes even kill people.”

But manager Ittipan told AFP that the creatures were well trained and looked after.

“I don’t see this as exploitation or torture. We have had elephants in our province for tourism and social awareness for a really long time. So it’s really not a big deal doing activities with them like this morning,” Ittipan said.

“Elephants have always been integral to the Thai way of life.”

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article