The Thai Ambassador, Angsana Sihapitak, accepts donation that were collected in small amounts from visitors who entered the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo raffle, from Tamar, an Israeli elephant.
Yori Yalon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
Thai Ambassador to Israel Angsana Sihapitak received Thursday a $1,500 donation from the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo for an elephant hospital in Lampang — and the check was personally delivered by an elephant named Tamar.
Tamar, an Asian elephant, held the giant check in her trunk, presenting it to Sihapitak.
“I will forward it to the elephant hospital to Lampang [in accordance with] the objective of this donation,” Sihapitak said, adding that she was very grateful for the kindness and cooperation from Israel to help the Thai elephants.
A national symbol of Thailand, elephants are praised as a sacred animal among Thais.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the Asian elephant is considered an endangered species due to threats of habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. They are often subjected to hard labor and have long been hunted for their ivory and exploited for tourism.
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo said the donation had been collected in small amounts from zoo visitors over the past three years as part of a lottery that would allow one lucky winner to spend a day up close with the elephants inside their enclosure.
Entering the lottery costs only one shekel (26 cents), and zoo visitors can continue to participate through March. Zoo CEO Shay Doron says he hopes the next round will result in an even larger donation for the elephant hospital.
“The Thai elephants arrived in Israel only because of the special request made by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to his colleague to bring elephants to the Jerusalem zoo, but [there is] full commitment from the Israeli side to do whatever we can do to promote wildlife conservation in zoos [and] to promote … [the] Asian elephant’s needs for conservation and breeding,” said Doron.
“The most important thing about this contribution is not only the amount of money, but the fact that it’s a gift from the children of Jerusalem and the children of Israel. We collected shekel by shekel, dollar by dollar, no one came with big money,” he added.
Tamar, who was given a biblical name that means palm tree or date, has been in Israel for 20 years.
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