Neglected elephant touches down in Thai homeland after flight

July 03, 2023

Neglected elephant touches down in Thai homeland after flightA Thai keeper feeds elephant Muthu Raja in an enclosure at Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo on June 30, 2023 (Ishara S. KODIKARA)A Thai elephant gifted to Sri Lanka two decades ago arrived back in its birth country Sunday, following a diplomatic spat over the animal's alleged mistreatment. Thai authorities had gifted the 29-year-old Muthu Raja -- also known back in its birthplace as Sak Surin -- to Sri Lanka in 2001. But they demanded the elephant back last year after allegations that it was tortured and neglected while kept at a Buddhist temple. Muthu Raja was in pain and covered in abscesses when it was rescued from the Buddhist temple last year, the zoo's chief veterinarian, Madusha Perera, told AFP. Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told parliament in June he had personally conveyed Sri Lanka's regrets to the Thai king over the elephant's condition.