Sak Surin, the tusker, is now at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre quarantined and receiving treatment for its ailments under the supervision of experts and proper caretakers.
Sak Surin was one of three Thai elephants gifted to Sri Lanka in 2001 as a goodwill ambassador.
Concerns were raised by the Sri Lanka-based animal protection organization Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (Rare) regarding the elephant’s alleged abuse and injuries sustained while being kept in leg chains at the Kande Viharaya. Rare insisted on his repatriation to Thailand for treatment and sanctuary.
Thus, On July 2, a special aircraft arrived from Russia to transport Sak Surin back to Thailand. The elephant was safely transferred from Dehiwala Zoo to Katunayake Airport in a specially built cabin to ensure his well-being and minimize any inconvenience. The Russian “Illusion-76” plane departed from Katunayake Airport on July 3, arriving at Xianmai Airport in Bangkok, Thailand.
The repatriation process, planned over six months, involved the cooperation of both governments and the Thai embassy in Colombo. Approximately 19.5 million baht from the emergency budget was allocated for the elephant’s repatriation and care.
Upon arrival in Thailand, Sak Surin was taken to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang province. Currently, he is undergoing a 30-day quarantine as mandated by Livestock Department regulations. During this period, Sak Surin is receiving comprehensive care from a team of veterinarians and mahouts. He is also undergoing hydrotherapy to treat an injury on his front left leg. Varawut Silpa-archa, the caretaker minister of Natural Resources and Environment, confirmed that the elephant appeared normal upon arrival at the centre.
Sak Surin’s treatment and care include specialized attention to his injuries and rehabilitation. The elephant centre director, Suratchai Inwiset, reported that Sak Surin appeared fresh on Monday morning, displayed an increased appetite, and excreted normally. This indicates positive progress in his well-being.
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre is ensuring that Sak Surin receives a complete rest during his quarantine period. The centre is closely monitoring his health and providing the necessary rehabilitation to help him adjust to the Thai mahouts, language, and environment.
While public viewing is currently not possible due to the quarantine, the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre aims to keep supporters connected with Sak Surin’s progress. The centre will provide live streaming of his activities twice a day on their fan page, allowing people to witness his rehabilitation journey.
Once Sak Surin completes the 30-day quarantine and fully recovers, the centre plans to make him available for public viewing. However, it has not been announced when exactly this will happen. When asked whether Sak Surin would be returned to Sri Lanka after recovering from his ailments, Varawut Silpa-Archa declined to comment, stating that it was still unknown.
The repatriation of Sak Surin from Sri Lanka to Thailand marks an important step in addressing concerns about his well-being and alleged abuse. With ongoing treatment, care, and rehabilitation efforts at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, it is hoped that Sak Surin will regain his health and lead a better life.
Source: Bangkok Post