Thailand’s annual jumbo corporate social responsibility (CSR) event of the year, the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, will be held on the banks of the Chao Phraya River next to Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort between March 9th and 12th.
Held for the past 14 years, the 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will be the first held in honour of King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who ascended the Chakri Dynasty throne following the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13 last year following a reign of 70 years (See: End of Days: Thailand king dead).
The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament has become one of the largest and most noteworthy charity events in Southeast Asia, to date raising over $1.3 million (Bt46 million), with proceeds channeled into elephant conservation projects including the world’s first Thai Elephant Assisted Autistic Therapy Project. Money raised also funds farmer-elephant conflict mitigation projects in three Thai national parks; the planting of a 4,000 trees elephant proof fence in Thailand; a children’s educational programme from the Thailand education ministry teaching the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand, and funding the world’s first Target Training Positive Reinforcement Workshop to teaching mahouts and trainers throughout Southeast Asia elephant friendly training methods.
30 Elephants, 40 Competitors
The 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will feature 30 unemployed former street elephants and ten teams of contestants comprising more than 40 competitors including Thai supermodels, a host of Thai socialites and celebrities, professional horse polo players, the renowned New Zealand All Blacks, the New Zealand national rugby union team, as well, a team from Thailand’s famous transgender cabaret, Miss Tiffany’s.
The four day 2017 King’s Cup elephant polo tournament promises to be a memorable event commencing with an impressive opening parade, a children’s education day, a ladies day where fashion is the order of the day, known as the ‘Bangkok Ascot’, and a wide range of ‘ele-fun’ related activities.
Organisers stress that the well-being of the pachyderms partaking in the 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is paramount, with uncompromising rules in place to ensure their well being and comfortable. All elephants participating in the 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament receive regular veterinary examination, fresh food, water, and vitamin supplements for the duration of the event. Additionally, Anantara resorts also enforces a “no micro-chip, no game” rule, ensuring that all participating elephants have been domestically bred and not captured from the wild or smuggled in from neighbouring countries.
“The worst trekking camps can be tough for any elephant: to make money, mahouts are forced to work their elephants 10 to 12 hours a day. At home in Surin, unemployment means elephants are often left isolated from each other. Many are secured with a short chain on two legs, 24-hours a day, with neither exercise nor enrichment”, a spokesperson for Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas said.
For those wanting to be close to the action Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas have put together a special ele-package comprising two night’s (or more) accommodation at one of its four Bangkok properties, daily breakfasts, two elephant polo shirts, and two admission tickets for the duration of stay to the 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, starting at $191 per room per night.
Day tickets to the 2017 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will cost Bt200 ($5.59) per person from the front office, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort and at the pitch on tournament days. For those wanting more excitement several VIP ele-packages are also available at the same price as last year’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament. As with previous year’s events gross proceeds will go to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.