Elephants Treated to a Fruit Buffet on Thai National Elephant Day

March 13, 2018 Last Updated: March 13, 2018

About 70 elephants in Thailand’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya were treated to a fruit buffet on Tuesday, March 13, to commemorate Elephant Day.

As is traditional for this annual event, adults and children had the opportunity to feed the friendly giants.

National Elephant Day began in 1998, initiated by wildlife conservationists to remind Thais of the significance of elephants. It also serves as a reminder for people to help support efforts to protect them from poaching.

For several decades, the pachyderms have been part of the country’s tourist attractions as they are trained to perform in shows and give tourists rides around cities. The deputy manager of the Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal & Village, Riengthongbaht Meepan, said the tourist industry is the “lightest job” for the elephants and their handlers to make a comfortable living.

“We have to accept that the world has changed. Everyone needs to earn a living, we all need to thrive to survive,” he said. “Elephants entering the Hollywood, Bollywood scenes or in the tourist industry, that’s actually the lightest jobs for them.

“We should be supporting elephant trainers who use correct training methods, are not violent with the animal, in order to improve their talent to be able to do worldclass performances, which could then create a name for the country,” said Meepan.

There are about 3,500 elephants left in the wildlife sanctuaries across Thailand, according to the Thai Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.

Watch the video to see footage of elephants, their handlers, and visitors interact on National Elephant Day.

Reuters contributed to this report.