CHIANG RAI – Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas has announced the highly popular King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament in the royal seaside town of Hua Hin from August 28th – September 1st 2013 and promises to have a tonne of elephant-fun activities both on and off the field.
The 12th King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will be held at Hua Hin’s Suriyothai Army Base approximately 20 minutes from Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa. Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa is a distinctive Thai village-style resort located on the sunrise coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Hidden amidst 14 acres of luxuriantly landscaped mature gardens and lagoon pools, the picturesque resort enjoys a beachfront location at the quiet end of Thailand’s historic royal seaside town.
The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and has grown to become one of the biggest charitable events in Thailand. To date the event has raised almost US$600,000 for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population, including housing for the mahouts and families, shelters for the elephants and a mobile blood centrifuge and elephant ambulance for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Chiang Mai (TECC).
In addition to the 30 rescued street elephants who now enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort overseen by John Roberts in Chiang Rai. The annual event allows a further 50 young elephants to be taken off the streets for the two week period during the tournament, providing them with a native forest environment, the best food possible, as well as the only proper veterinary check and vitamins they receive all year.
Street life can be tough for an elephant, walking through crowded tourist areas and busy roads for ten hours a night, forced to rest during the day on small green spaces within the cities, often without shade and water. The King’s Cup schedule is deliberately designed to give these elephants rest and relaxation on a scale they are never afforded in their ‘normal’ lives.
Since 2009 donations have also gone to funding the world’s first ever elephant therapy programme to research the rehabilitation benefits for autistic children. The Thai Elephant Therapy Project (TETP) was created in conjunction with Chiang Mai University and the TECC, initially allowing a further five elephants to be rescued off the streets of Bangkok, rented and trained as assistant therapists for autistic children. The programme now runs free therapy sessions for Thai children every year.
Other significant benefits from money raised has gone to building the first elephant hospital in Krabi in the southern part of Thailand; research and tree planting to build elephant corridors in Kui Buri so there are no elephant/farmer conflicts; funding the first educational computer application for children to teach them the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand and funding Asia’s first workshop to show traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for domesticated elephants.
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