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The Queen’s elephants

Written By vibykhmer on Sunday, November 16, 2008 | 1:51 AM


Chiengmai. Tonsak. Kungrao. Surin. The names of the star elephants at the Copenhagen Zoo are Thai because they are from Thailand.

Actually, most of the elephants at the 149-year-old zoo are principally from Thailand due to long-standing relations between the two countries.

The first two Thai elephants, Chang and Eng, arrived in Denmark in 1878 as a gift from the Danish consul in Siam.


The zoo’s successful elephant breeding programme began when Their Majesties the King and Queen gifted three elephants — Chiengmai, Lampoon and Buag Hah — to Their Majesties Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid as a royal gift during their state visit to Thailand in 1962.

‘‘Chiengmai is now the great-grandfather of 12 calves,’’ said zoologist Bengt Holst proudly. ‘‘They are housed in various zoos in Europe.’’

In 2001, Denmark received another three elephants from Thailand. Two of them — Tonsak and Kungrao — were royal gifts from Their Majesties the King and Queen to Their Majesties Queen Margrethe II and Prince Consort Henrik during their visit to Thailand.

Surin is a gift from the people of Surin province to the Danish people. ‘‘The Thai elephants are our biggest attraction,’’ said the zoologist, adding that they are considered the Queen’s royal elephants in Denmark.

qele2The royal elephants were moved from castle-like quarters to a more natural and stimulating abode this year, a ceremony presided by Prince Consort Henrik and his grandson Prince Christian.

The new Elephant House is covered with glass domes to allow more sunlight, with better temperatures and humidity control. The sand-covered floor helps protect the elephants’ legs and feet while providing a soft ground to lie on.

The outdoor area is shaped like a dry river bed with mud holes and a deep ditch for the elephants to bathe. There is also a distance between each feeding ground, thus forcing the elephants to walk for food as they would do in the wild.

The new Elephant House is designed by famous UK architect Norman Foster.

principally - mainly
consul - an official chosen by a government to live in a foreign city, in order to take care of people from the official's own country who travel or live there, and to protect the trade interests of that government
breeding - the keeping of animals or plants in order to produce young animals from them
calves - the young of various other large mammals such as elephants and whales
zoologist - a person who scientifically studies animals
Prince Consort - the title sometimes given to the husband of a ruling queen
stimulating - if an activity is stimulating, it causes your body to be active
abode - the place where someone lives
presided - to be in charge of a formal meeting or ceremony
ditch - a long narrow open channel dug into the ground usually at the side of a road or field, which is used especially for supplying or removing water, or for dividing land
bathe - wash
architect - a person whose job is to design new buildings and make certain that they are built correctly


Posted by Terry Fredrickson at 03:14 AM

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