Seven Thai elephants, stranded in Hong Kong for the past four months, left for their home in Bangkok on Saturday (29 November) on the freighter, Oriental Ruler.
SV Elephants at Lai Chi Kok fair-ground being prepared for show (2 shots)
CU Football kicked towards elephants. Elephant walks forward and kicks ball into air
SV Elephant walks forward and kicks ball again
SV Elephants paraded around ring
TV Elephant into hoist net and lifted aboard ship (3 shots)
GV Another Elephant hoisted aboard ship
CU Elephant put into crate for voyage
Initials BB/1825 YA/AW/BB/1840
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Background: Seven Thai elephants, stranded in Hong Kong for the past four months, left for their home in Bangkok on Saturday (29 November) on the freighter, Oriental Ruler.
The elephants were taken to Hong Kong last July for charity performances..but ended up being charity cases themselves.
Because of continuing poor weather, earnings were not enough to pay for the return journey home. As a result,l the elephants were abandoned by the promoters of the performances.
Since then, the Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been feeding them, with assistance from the public. However, money was running short and near-winter temperatures were beginning to have an adverse effect on the health of the elephants.
One died in October but its baby calf was flown to Bangkok soon afterwards.
To make the journey more comfortable for the seven elephants, the British Army built special transport crates for them. The owners of the Oriental Ruler also diverted the vessel from several ports on the way to Bangkok to cut the time at sea from eleven to four days.
The Government of Thailand has expressed its appreciation to all concerned in making the "mercy shipment possible.
SYNOPSIS: The Lai Chi Kok fairground in Hong Kong...where on Saturday, these elephant entertainers made their farewell appearance. Hours later, they began the journey home to Thailand on the freighter, Oriental Ruler, after being stranded for four months in Hong Kong. Their farewell show was not advertised. It was very make-shift...just a means for the elephants to give their thanks to the people who fed them during their long ordeal. The huge stars were brought to Hong Kong for charity performances...but became charity cases themselves when, because of poor weather, they didn't make enough money for the passage home.
After being abandoned by the charity promoters four months ago, the elephants are now going home through the goodwill of the owners of the Oriental Ruler. The shipping company has decided to bear the entire cost of the trip to Thailand. It's also diverted the vessel from several ports along the way...so the elephants have to stay at sea for only four days, not eleven.
To make the journey easier, the British Army in Hong Kong's built special crates for the animals. The Thai government has expressed its thanks to all concerned...doubtless echoed by the elephants themselves.