Thailand’s elephants are black and white and mad all over as public interest shifts to new panda cub

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The Thai public’s fascination with that sort-of-cute giant panda cub born last month is understandable -- it’s Thailand’s first successful captive panda birth ever -- but it also has a downside. Pity the poor Asian elephants, the animals that used to hold Thai heartstrings but have now been relegated to also-ran status.

What’s a Thai elephant keeper to do? Why, paint their giant charges with vivid, panda-style watercolors, of course! That’s just what the staff at the Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal did to make a statement about their beloved pachyderms’ loss of status. From the Bangkok Post:


Kraal manager Itthipan Kaolamai said staff were striking a blow for Thai elephant causes. Many of the beasts were still in need of state help, but in all the fuss over pandas were getting overlooked. The government was showering money on the Chinese pandas, while ignoring its own national symbol, the elephant.

The Chiang Mai Zoo, home to the new panda cub, even plans to build a ‘snow house’ for its burgeoning panda family at a cost of 20 million baht (nearly $600,000 U.S.), the Post reported. So where’s the 20-million-baht gold-plated elephant mud hole?

After receiving their extensive paint jobs, the elephants were paraded before a group of apparently jubilant children who seemed to have forgotten all about pandas. Except for the fact that the elephants looked just like ... oh, never mind. More photos after the jump!

-- Lindsay Barnett

Top photo: AFP/Getty Images
Other photos: Associated Press