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Elephant Day : elephants in Thailand's ancient capital of Ayutthaya were...

About 60 elephants in Thailand's ancient capital of Ayutthaya were treated to a fruit buffet on March 13, to commemorate Elephant Day, an event that seeks to end their exploitation. Elephant Day started in 1998, initiated by wildlife conservationists to remind Thais of the significance of elephants to the country and support efforts to protect them.Elephants are a symbol of the nation and are respected because soldiers rode them during ancient times.

For many decades, the pachyderms have long been part of the country's tourist attractions as they are trained to perform in shows and give tourists tour rides around cities. "In the future, we plan to reduce the exploitation of elephants as much as possible. At the moment, 30 percent of our elephants at the Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal have stopped going out to work (ferrying people around). Their job now is to let people bathe and care for them. Thais and foreigners who enjoy living with elephants pay for their food and contribute to our development funds," said Laithongrien Meepan, the manager of the Elephant Kraal and Village in Ayuthaya.

There are about 3,700 elephants left in the wild in Thailand and up to 4,000 domesticated ones, according to EleAid, a British organization working for the conservation of the Asian elephant.

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