White Elephants in Thailand - Of Royalty and Divinity

The elephant is the national animal of Thailand. Visitors to the country come across the gentle giants in parks, circuses and conservatories. But these large animals have played a more significant role in the country's culture since the past. Unknown to many outside the country, white elephants in Thailand, a rarer breed of the regular mammals, have long been considered as auspicious and lucky. These elephants have a white or pinkish tone to their body and are granted a status equivalent to a deity by the Thai people.

Here we will talk about their history, significance and delve into a few of the conservatories being run in Thailand today.

The Glorious History of White Elephants in Thailand

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White Elephants have been an integral part of the history and culture of Thailand. In the past, the status of the Thai ruler was determined by their ownership of white elephants. The more the number, the more magnificent the ruler was regarded to be.

King Bhumibol, the late Thai king, possessed twenty-one white elephants during his dynasty. This was considered as the accomplishment of the king by the locals. But among these twenty-one elephants, only five of them held the royal title. Because to hold a title, an elephant has to pass through several tests made by the imperial bureau.

These royal elephants were named as Chang Peak. Around the cornea of these elephants was a pinkish or white hue. The skin of the tusk and shoulders were of the same pink colour. They had pink or white toenails.

According to the Act of Elephant Maintenance in 1921, if anyone were to find such an animal, it was to be presented to the ruling monarch.

White Elephants - A Symbol of Prosperity

Source

In Thailand, White Elephants are considered a good omen. The local people believe the elephants to be auspicious and divine. According to Thai culture, white elephants bring success in business and life. They symbolize wealth and prosperity. However, the royal history related to the white elephants increased its value much higher for the locals.

Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand

1. Phang Nga Elephant Park 

Phang Nga Elephant Park is a great place to visit with family. The keepers here help you understand the elephants and the conservation practices followed. You can have a half-day or full-day tour. The best part is you will also get to participate in a Thai cooking class here.

Address: 49/1 Moo 3 Thung Kha Ngok, Mueang Phang-nga District, Phang-nga 82000, Thailand
Contact: +66 85 351 5536
2. Elephant Nature Park

This park is one of the famous elephant conservation parks in Thailand. This nature park is in Chiang Mai, the northern city of Thailand. The park shelters over thirty-five elephants.

Address: Kuet Chang, Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai 50150, Thailand
Contact: +66 53 272 855
3. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

This sanctuary is home for thirty beautiful Asian elephants. You can watch the loving animals roam freely in the jungle sanctuary. You can experience the local culture in a night stay at the local village, Karen. 

Address: 119 10 Thapae Rd, Tambon Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Contact: +66 53 273 415

If you are planning a trip to Thailand, do hit the local sanctuaries and elephant parks. You can enjoy a day with these lovely animals. From feeding to riding them, you can choose loads of activities, to make your trip a memorable one.

This post was published by Arnab Ghosh

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