Fun Filled And Exciting Elephant Polo In Thailand
Elephant polo seems like pure silly fun but when it is done in Thailand, it is for a very good cause. The annual King’s Cup Tournament has always been sponsored by Anantara for 14 years until it was held in Bangkok for the first time. King’s Cup Tournament in Anantara, Hua Hin is a serious fundraiser that was filled with nonstop parties and games. The tournament delivers all the promises of its founders composed of philanthropists, polo players and sports fans. Since the first year of the tournament, it has already raised more than US$1.3 million which is invested in low-overhead elephant conservation projects in Asia and more recently, Africa.
International players to the tournament are composed of professional polo players, some former rowdy All Blacks from New Zealand and a popular team of local ladyboys. They ride behind the Thai mahouts or elephant keepers who steer the elephants while wielding mallets that are about 7 feet long. Do not expect the elephant polo to be a fast moving game although it is very exciting. The players have to lean far into the elephant’s sides to strike a ball without hitting the legs of the animal.
The health and welfare of the elephants is of primary concern and it clearly printed out in the rules of the game. Anantara’s longtime director of conservation along with an umpire is always present on the sporting field to ensure that no elephant is abused during the game.
The elephant polo match consists of a two 7-minute chukkas (halves) so that the elephants can be swapped out during halftime. The 20 elephants that will participate in this year’s tournament were rented from mahouts. During the 28 minutes on the field each day, the animals are given long breaks, abundant food and medical care. Elephants are treated to a feast that consists of vegetables, pineapples and sugarcane.
There are Condos for Rent in Hua Hin if you prefer a more relaxed lifestyle after the elephant polo. You can easily take a taxi from Bangkok to Hua Hin for 2,000 baht. Limousine services are also available but they are more expensive than taxi service.