Rare white elephant born in Myanmar: State media

According to reports, the baby possesses seven of the eight characteristics associated with the species

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP


Published: Wed 3 Aug 2022, 12:12 PM

A rare white elephant was born in Rakhine State, situated in western Myanmar, state media said on Wednesday, unveiling what many in the Buddhist-majority country believe to be an auspicious creature.

Born last month, the baby elephant weighs about 80kg and stands roughly 70cm tall, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Footage released by state TV showed the tusker tot following his mother to a river, being washed by its keepers, and later feeding from her.

The mother— a 33-year-old called Zar Nan Hla— is kept by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, the Global New Light said, adding that the baby possessed seven of the eight characteristics associated with rare white elephants.

"Pearl-coloured eyes, [a] plantain branch-shaped back, white hair, a distinctive tail, auspicious plot signs on the skin, five claws on the front legs and four on the back legs and big ears," the newspaper reported.

Historically, white elephants were considered extremely auspicious in southeast Asian culture, and the region's ancient rulers acquired as many as they could to boost their fortunes.

However, the ruinous cost of keeping the beasts in an appropriately-lavish style gave rise to the modern expression, in which a "white elephant" is a beautiful (but useless) possession.

There are currently six white elephants in captivity in the military-built capital Naypyidaw, according to state media— mostly from Rakhine state and the southern Ayeyarwady region.

Social media users first posted about the birth of the elephant— which has not been named yet— late last month. With Myanmar reeling from a military coup last year and its bloody crackdown on dissent, the reaction of many people was either muted or sceptical.

"Am I colour-blind if it just looks brown to me?" posted one user.

"Elephants were important only in the old eras," said another.

"Now the poor elephant will have to go to jail," lamented a third.


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