Elephants from Ayutthaya camp march in procession to celebrate Thai King's coronation in Bangkok. Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Ten elephants painted white marched on Tuesday near Bangkok's Grand Palace to honour Thailand's newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn, a day after ceremonies for his coronation ended.
The animals and their handlers from the ancient capital of Ayutthaya walked for a short stretch before paying their respects to a portrait of the king.
Many among the crowd of enthusiastic onlookers held portraits of the king.
"I'm delighted because I've never seen this before in my 70 years," said motorcycle taxi driver Boonsueb Unnimit.
Elephants hold special significance in Thai history and culture.
"The elephant is a symbol of the monarch, a symbol of battles, as well as a symbol of peace and serenity," said Bangkok resident Panarat Panchuer, 61.
No elephants participated in the official coronation ceremonies, although the king to be presented with a white elephant, a gift that is considered especially auspicious, some time later.
The three-day ceremonies started on Saturday, after a long period of official mourning for the king's revered father, who died in October 2016 having reigned for 70 years.
Laithongrien Meepan, the owner of Ayutthaya's Elephant Kraal and Village, said he was pleased the elephants managed to stay calm on Tuesday despite the bustling crowd and the heat.
"We're here full of happiness and overwhelmed," he said.
A non-toxic, water-based paint mixed with powder was used to create the appearance of a white elephant without harming the animals, the Kraal centre said.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Rama X of Thailand, was crowned on Saturday in a dazzling show of pageantry, laced with Hindu and Buddhist ritual, vowing to reign “with righteousness” on behalf of the Thai people.
A giraffe that bolted from a convoy destined for a Thai safari park was on the run Wednesday, as vets scoured farmland near the escape zone in an almost 24-hour search gripping the public.
Underfed and chained up for endless hours, campaigners warn many elephants working in Thailand's tourism sector may starve, be sold to zoos or shifted into the illegal logging trade as the coronavirus decimates visitor numbers.
The children shared their immense pride in the noble legacy and selfless sacrifice of their fathers in the service of the nation.
Four months and seven countries later, he is in Cairo with a full scholarship to Al Azhar University. "If you have a dream, stay with it and be strong," Barry said. "God will help you."
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