An old saying goes that “an elephant never forget”, will that be the case for Plai Sak Surin?
Plai Sak Surin, aka Billy, a Thai elephant with a good temperament, is about to return home after being sold to Sri Lanka. He was sent to Sri Lanka in 2002 as part of a diplomatic gift from the Thai government. However, after years of hard labor and poor care, the elephant’s health and well-being deteriorated. Plai Sak Surin’s knees were bent and he could not stand up for eight years.
After an outcry from animal rights organizations and the public, the Thai government began negotiations with Sri Lanka to bring Plai Sak Surin back to Thailand for medical treatment. On June 10, 2023, a team of Thai veterinarians and experts traveled to Sri Lanka to assess Plai Sak Surin’s health and prepare for his return journey.
The team found that Plai Sak Surin was in poor health and recommended that he be brought back to Thailand for treatment. The elephant was transported by plane on an Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft, in a specially designed cage that could accommodate his large size and long tusks. The journey took 5-6 hours and was closely monitored by veterinarians and elephant handlers to ensure his safety.
Plai Sak Surin’s return to Thailand marks the end of a long ordeal for the elephant. After years of suffering, he will finally receive the care and attention he deserves. His story serves as a reminder of the importance of treating animals with kindness and respect.
Photo Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand