Polo pachyderms rumble in Bangkok’s urban jungle

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BANGKOK: A herd of elephants romped across a Bangkok pitch on Thursday for the first match of a four-day polo tournament raising money for the animals, which are heralded as a national symbol but often subject to abuse. Eighteen pachyderms are playing in the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, held this year on a large field in the heart of the Thai capital. During the lumbering and unsurprisingly slow-paced matches, a “mahout” handler controls the beasts while a polo player who is also riding on the elephant’s back concentrates on scoring. This year’s tournament sees a motley mix of humans competing, including professional polo players, New Zealand rugby stars, Thai celebrities and members of a transgender cabaret troupe.

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