Amid Pandemic, Thailand's Elephants Face Starvation

Owners say they can no longer afford to feed them
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2020 1:55 AM CDT
Amid Pandemic, Thailand's Elephants Face Starvation
With an assist from mahouts, elephants blow water from its trunk at tourists in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand Wednesday, April 11, 2018.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

In Thailand, elephants are at risk of becoming indirect victims of the coronavirus pandemic. With tourism at a standstill, the country's estimated 2,000 captive elephants are at risk of starvation, the AFP reports. Owners say they can't afford the hundreds of pounds of food an elephant needs each day. "If there is no support forthcoming to keep them safe, these elephants, some of whom are pregnant, will either starve to death or may be put on to the streets to beg," Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, tells the BBC. Elephants may also end up being sold to zoos or put to work in the illegal logging industry. Campaigners, who say it costs at least $30 a day to feed an elephant, have urged the Thai government to fund camps to ensure the animals survive the crisis. (More Thailand stories.)

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