BANGKOK – A young male elephant was electrocuted in Thailand after stumbling into a drain and crashing into a restaurant sign, police said Saturday.
Two elephant handlers were walking 10-year-old Plai Nam Choke -- or "Lucky" in English -- around a town in Samut Prakhan province south of Bangkok, offering passers-by the chance to feed him for cash.
But Lucky stumbled into an open sewer and collided with an electric signboard outside a restaurant, said police officer Nopporn Saengsawang.
"I received a call at 8:30 pm that the elephant was stuck in the drain," he said. "He likely died from electrocution." Some rescue workers from a local charity group attempted CPR on Lucky for three hours after he fell.
The two handlers were charged with illegally moving the elephant and animal cruelty offences, Nopporn said. Lucky hailed from the northeastern province of Surin, home to a famous annual elephant fair that features a parade by performing pachyderms.
Wild elephants can still be seen in Thailand's national forests, but their numbers have dwindled to about 2,700 from a peak of over 100,000 in 1850.
A large number have been domesticated for entertainment or tourism purposes, prompting accusations of animal cruelty.
Handlers are usually banned from walking elephants through cities due to space constraints, but many risk punishment in pursuit of living.
Research has shown that elephants caught in the wild and subjected to a lifetime of captivity suffer from long-term stress and tend to have shorter lifespans. ---