King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament moves to Bangkok

This year’s event will be held by the banks of Bangkok’s Chaophraya river from March 10-13, 2016

By: FE Online | Published: January 20, 2016 5:44 PM

ElephantAnantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas has announced the 2016 dates for The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament. This year’s event will be held by the banks of Bangkok’s Chaophraya river from March 10-13, 2016.

In its 14th year, the tournament has become one of the biggest charitable events in Southeast Asia. Almost US$ 1 million is said to have been raised and donated to projects that better the lives of Thailand’s wild and domesticated elephant population, including support for research and clinics using elephants in therapy sessions for children living with autism.

Other projects include funding farmer-elephant conflict mitigation projects in three Thai and one Tanzanian National Park; planting 4,000 trees to form an elephant proof fence in Thailand; funding the protection of 18,000 hectares of standing forest in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains and funding the roll out of children’s educational programmes with the Thai Ministry to teach them the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand.

This year’s event will have 10 teams encompassing over 40 players, including Thai celebrities, professional horse polo players, New Zealand All Blacks rugby players and Thailand’s famous transgender cabaret team Miss Tiffany.

A total of 18 elephants will be given a break from their work in tourist trekking camps in Pattaya or bought from unemployment in Surin to take part in the festival, during which they will be given food, essential vitamin supplements, veterinary checks and care for the duration of the event.

Domestic elephants are micro-chipped by the Thai government to show that they have not been caught from the wild. In order to make money, mahouts are forced to work their elephants 10-12 hours a day. Conversely, at home in Surin, unemployment means elephants are often left isolated from other elephants with a short chain on two legs 24 hours a day with no exercise or enrichment. In both circumstances, the poverty of existence means their owners cannot afford to feed them anything close to their daily physical needs, emotional needs are forgotten, and shade and sufficient water are often overlooked. The King’s Cup schedule is designed to give these trekking elephants rest, and ensure elephant rest time with interaction and enrichment.

The four-day festival will have opening parade, children’s educational day, ladies’ day known as the ‘Bangkok Ascot’ and a range of elephant related activities for families.

Anantara has 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, as well as bringing the Elephant Parade to Bangkok where 88 elephant statues were decorated by local and international celebrities and artists to honour Thailand’s HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 88th birthday.

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