Sunday, 8 January 2017

Elephant polo: sounds like a joke but is deadly serious

It is one of the more curious events on the international sporting calendar, but one that is deadly serious about raising funds for animal welfare. 

The 15th King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will be held by the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River from March 9-12. 

Sponsored by Anantara Hotels and Resorts, the tournament has become one of the biggest charitable events in South-East Asia with over US $1.3 million raised and donated to projects that better the lives of Thailand’s wild and domesticated elephant population. 

These include the world’s first Thai Elephant-Assisted Autistic Therapy Project; positive reinforcement elephant training workshops; mahout community development initiatives, and wild elephant conservation.

A total of 30 unemployed former street elephants will take part in this year’s festival during which they will be given full veterinary checks and care, food and drink and essential vitamin supplements. 

The welfare of the elephants that participate in the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is of paramount importance, organisers say, with strict rules ensuring that the pachyderms are well cared for at all times. 

By imposing a “no micro-chip, no game” rule, Anantara guarantees that all participating elephants have been domestically bred and not captured from the wild or smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

The 2017 event will have 10 teams encompassing over 40 players, including Thai celebrities, supermodels, professional horse polo players and New Zealand rugby players. The four-day festival will also feature an opening parade, Children’s Educational Day, Ladies' Day known as The ‘Bangkok Ascot’ and fun elephant-related activities.

Anantara has long been associated with elephant conservation efforts with the formation of The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which has performed over 40 rescues of elephants off the streets of Thailand.

For details see: 

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