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Competition Heavy at Thailand Elephant Polo Competition

The action was hot and heavy — especially heavy — as competition began Thursday in Thailand’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament, a quirky charity event whose proceeds benefit the beasts who are the games’ stars. The game deviates from standard polo in several aspects, aside from the mounts weighing upward of 2,200 kilograms (5,000 pounds). Two people, the player and a mahout, or trainer, sit astride each elephant. The mallets are about two meters (6.6 feet) long, and women are allowed to use both hands to wield them. Elephants are the de facto national animal of Thailand, and for a time even adorned the country’s flag. But in the past few decades, they have fallen on hard times, as deforestation has deprived them of a habitat where they can roam wild and led to massive unemployment in logging, the sector where tamed elephants could once earn an honest living. The...

 

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