Sick elephant transported from Sri Lanka to Thailand for treatment

News : Sick elephant transported from Sri Lanka to Thailand for treatment
Elephant Sak Surin in Sri Lanka, June 20, 2023, credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sak Surin, a 30-year-old elephant suffering from various health issues, made a long journey home from Sri Lanka to Thailand for medical treatment.

The elephant’s journey on Sunday included a custom-built transport container and a low-speed and low-altitude flight to ensure his safety and comfort.

In 2001, the Thai government gifted Sak Surin and two other elephants to Sri Lanka. Sak Surin was placed in a Buddhist temple in southern Sri Lanka, where, despite having a limp, he was made to participate in religious parades. Animal rights activists have previously voiced concerns about mistreatment of the elephant at the temple.

His trip back to Thailand began at night in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with Sak Surin being led into a steel transport container. The container, carrying the ailing elephant, was then loaded onto a truck and transported to the airport for his flight home.

The steel container carrying Sak Surin was then transported by truck from the Chiang Mai’s Air Force Base to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang Province, where he is set to receive extensive medical care.

Varavut Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said that Sak Surin’s healing process might be lengthy. The minister told local media that it could take up to a year for the elephant to fully recover from his injuries and regain his health.

Upon his arrival at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, Sak Surin was seen stepping out of the container and entering his new home, where staff members examined him. He was then moved to a quarantine enclosure and was seen eating.

The final decision on whether Sak Surin will return to Sri Lanka after his recovery or remain in Thailand has not yet been made. “I think we will have plenty of time to discuss whether he’s going back (to Sri Lanka) or not,” Silpa-archa said.

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