A sick elephant whose alleged mistreatment sparked a diplomatic spat between Sri Lanka and Thailand. That is being returned to its native Thailand.
According to the French news agency AFP, Thailand gifted the elephant, named Myuthu Raja, to Sri Lanka in 2001. But last year demanded its return after allegations of abuse and neglect.
The elephant was kept in a Buddhist temple in the western region of Sri Lanka. When the Sri Lankan government retrieved him from the temple, his body was bruised and in pain.
The elephant is now in a zoo outside Colombo. And his wounds have healed, but the wound on his foot requires hydrotherapy.
“Arrangements have been completed to send the elephant to Thailand for this therapy,” said Madusha Perera, the elephant’s therapist.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardene, while addressing the assembly, said that he has conveyed a message of regret to the King of Thailand over the alleged ill-treatment of the elephant.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife minister said a Thai diplomat in Colombo saw the condition of the elephant last year and demanded its return.
“We don’t know what happened to it before,” said Thailand’s environment minister. But now the most important thing is his health.
He said that the Thai government has stopped sending more elephants abroad.
The organisation working for the rights of animals in Sri Lanka (RARE) has said that “we request the next prime minister of Thailand that he should not be chained and allowed to roam freely.”