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Elephant Emergency: Starving Symbol of Friendship Sparks International Crisis – Thailand Races to Save Muthu Raja!

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Plai Sak Surin, affectionately known as Muthu Raja among the Sri Lankan community, is a 30-year-old elephant gifted to Sri Lanka by the Thai government back in 2001, as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. Over the past 22 years, Plai Sak Surin and two other elephants have played a crucial role in an annual religious ceremony, paying homage to the sacred relics in Sri Lanka.

Recently, this goodwill gesture took a turn for the worse when an animal rights group in Sri Lanka, Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (RARE), accused the caretakers of Plai Sak Surin of neglect and improper care. The organization expressed concern over the poorly nourished elephant with a visible spine, coarse skin, and an abnormal left front leg, which limited his knee bending ability for nearly eight years.

The severity of Plai Sak Surin’s situation didn’t end there, as RARE also reported abscesses on both hips and thinning footpads due to prolonged standing. Acknowledging the alarming state of the elephant’s health, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, started negotiations with Sri Lankan officials and medical experts to find a solution to bring the ailing elephant back to Thailand.

As part of this effort, a specialized medical team from Thailand was dispatched to Sri Lanka to assess Plai Sak Surin’s health and determine if he was fit for the journey home. After careful examination, all parties involved have planned for Plai Sak Surin’s return to Thailand in July, aboard an Ilyushin IL-76 transport plane. Upon his arrival, the elephant will be cared for at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang province.

To ensure a smooth transition and commitment to Plai Sak Surin’s well-being, the Forest Industry Organisation has selected two experienced mahouts to accompany a team from the Department of National Parks to Sri Lanka. This team is set to travel to the island nation from June 6 to 9. Once Plai Sak Surin is safely back in Thailand, these dedicated mahouts will remain responsible for his recovery and ongoing care.

This incredible story highlights the importance of animal welfare and the need for collaborative efforts between nations to ensure the well-being of these majestic creatures. Plai Sak Surin’s return to Thailand is not only a victory for animal rights groups but also a testament to the strong bond between Sri Lanka and Thailand, as both countries rally together to protect and care for one of their most beloved elephants.

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