An elephant that two men were walking around to make money electrocuted in Thailand after tripping in an open sewer, while striking the electric sign of a restaurant.

An elephant named "lucky"

The elephant, a ten-year-old male who had been named Plai Nam Choke ("Lucky"), was shown to passers-by who could pay to give him food, in Samut Prakhan province, south of Bangkok.

"I got a call at 8:30 pm saying that the elephant was stuck in the sewer and he obviously died of electrocution," said police officer Nopporn Saengsawang. Rescuers from a local self-help group tried to revive him three hours after his fall, to no avail.

The two men were charged with animal cruelty and illegal movement of the elephant, Nopporn Saengsawang said. The young pachyderm came from the province of Surin, in the north-east of the country, where a renowned annual fair with an elephant parade takes place.

Only 2700 left

Wild elephants can still be seen in Thailand's forests, but their numbers have dwindled to around 2,700 against more than 100,000 in 1850. Many of them have been domesticated to distract tourists, leading to accusations of animal abuse.

Mahouts are generally not allowed to roam elephants in cities, but often take the risk of being sentenced to make a living. Research has shown that wild elephants kept in captivity for life have been stressed and their lives have tended to decline.


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