6 June 2024

Sak Surin, the ailing elephant in Sri Lanka, is rehearsing entering and exiting the specially-built flight cage at the Dehiwala zoo and the training, under the watchful eyes of two Thai mahouts, is proceeding smoothly, according to Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

He said today (Thursday) that the training program involves Sak Surin walking a distance of about 300 metres from its shelter to the cage, entering and exiting.

“With the mahouts watching nearby, Sak Surin is showing no sign of anxiety as it obediently moves in and out of the cage. This is a healthy sign,” said Atthaphon.

He also said that the elephant is not aggressive, obeys instructions from the mahouts and they are all getting along well.

The pachyderm will continue practising with the cage and will then practise staying in the cage while it is lifted up and down, to simulate the actual process of loading onto the plane, said Atthaphon.

Another vet from the department will fly to Sri Lanka on June 22nd, to make sure that Sak Surin’s chartered flight back to Thailand on July 2nd will be smooth and safe for the animal.

The plane will land in Chiang Mai and Sak Surin may stay at a zoo there for one night, if it is tired after the six-hour flight. When ready, the elephant will be transferred to a conservation centre in Lampang, where it will be rehabilitated and remain permanently.