Elephants in Thailand get fruit-and-veggie buffet in celebration of 'National Elephant Day'

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Elephants at a Thai garden were served a giant fruit-and-vegetable buffet on Sunday in observance of National Elephant Day.

Nearly 60 of the herbivorous mammals at the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Thailand’s eastern Chonburi province got to enjoy a two-ton spread on a 26.2-foot table, Reuters reported.

Ktampon Tansacha, the garden’s president, told the news agency that its elephants like eating bananas.

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He added that visitors enjoy watching and feeding the elephants. This usually brighten the animals’ days, as they’re accustomed to being near people. 

A Thai elephant keeper stands next to an elephant during Thailand's National Elephant Day celebration at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya, Thailand, which was celebrated on March 13, 2022.

A Thai elephant keeper stands next to an elephant during Thailand’s National Elephant Day celebration at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya, Thailand, which was celebrated on March 13, 2022. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

The Nong Nooch Tropical Garden elephants reportedly “get bored” when visitors aren’t around, according to Tansacha, but he said the animals are “friendly to everyone” and “look all healthy and happy.”

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It’s not just the elephants at the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden that are celebrated. 

Elephants all throughout the Southeast Asian country were treated with special care on National Elephant Day, which has been observed on March 13 each year since 1998.

The holiday coincides with the day the Thai government chose the elephant to be its national animal on March 13, 1963.

Feeding elephants buffet-style has been a longstanding tradition for holiday observers. 

Offering clothes and blessings are also a big part of the day, the Bangkok Post reported.

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Elephants have a longstanding history in Thailand and are used for transportation, labor, tourism and conservation purposes.

It’s estimated that there are 3,000 to 4,000 elephants in Thailand and around half of them are domesticated, according to Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary and rescue center in Thailand’s northern Chiang Mai province.

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The elephants that are beloved in Thailand are technically under the Indian elephant category, which is a subspecies of the Asian elephant.

Elephants are a popular tourist attraction in Thailand.

Elephants are a popular tourist attraction in Thailand. (iStock)

These elephants can grow up to 8.5 feet in height and weigh up to 11,500 pounds, according to Encyclopedia.com.

Thailand’s elephants and people were hard-hit by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

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Yet the country is open for travel now with a “Test & Go” program that “allows fully vaccinated travelers from any country to enter Thailand after undergoing a self-funded RT-PCR test upon arrival and a one-night stay in a government-approved hotel while awaiting test results,” according to the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand.

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