An unusual polo event raising funds for elephants in Thailand will be held in March (10-13).
The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, now in its 14th year, is held on the banks of Bangkok’s Chaophraya River.
The charity tournament has raised almost US$1M (£701,629) for projects that improve the lives of Thailand’s wild and domesticated elephants.
“The four-day festival will have something for everyone, including an impressive opening parade, children’s educational day, ladies day known as the ‘Bangkok Ascot’ and a wide range of fun elephant related activities for the whole family,” said a spokesman for the event.
The 2016 event will have 10 teams encompassing over 40 players, including Thai celebrities, professional polo players and New Zealand All Blacks rugby players, as well as Thailand’s transgender cabaret team Miss Tiffany.
18 elephants will take part in the tournament. This includes elephants from tourist trekking camps in Pattaya and domesticated elephants out of work in Surin.
In some camps elephants work 10 – 12 hours a day, or if kept at home “unemployed”, they can be left isolated from other elephants with no exercise. Their owners are often unable to afford to feed them sufficiently and shade and water can be overlooked.
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The King’s Cup gives these elephants much-needed rest and relaxation around the polo games, as well as veterinary attention.
Supporting elephants in Thailand
The tournament supports a variety of projects, including clinics that use elephants in therapy sessions for children with autism, helping treat lame elephants, providing a purpose built elephant ambulance to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre and teaching the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants.
Tournament organiser Anantara has formed The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which has rescued over 40 elephants and brought the Elephant Parade to Bangkok.
For more information visit www.anantaraelephantpolo.com