Banana vendor hurt trying to feed angry elephant

Banana vendor hurt trying to feed angry elephant

Wilaiwan Phankhian arrives at the provincial hospital after being injured by Phlai Big. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)
Wilaiwan Phankhian arrives at the provincial hospital after being injured by Phlai Big. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)

AYUTTHAYA -- A woman banana seller was injured when lifted up and thrown to the ground by a male elephant near Wat Mongkhon Bophit in the middle of Ayutthaya Historical Park, the province's major tourist attraction, on Tuesday.

Wilaiwan Phankhian, 35, of tambon Khlong Sa Bua in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district, was rushed to the provincial hospital after the attack.

Witness Supat Panthong, a 40-year-old tuk-tuk driver, said the incident occurred about 1pm when Ms Wilaiwan offered a bunch of raw bananas to Phlai Big, a 30-year-old bull elephant passing by with a mahout and two foreign tourists on his back.

The mahout shouted loudly at her, telling her not to do that, but the woman still tried to place the bananas in the animal's trunk. The elephant became angry, grasped the woman with its trunk, lifted her up in the air and then threw her on the ground.

Ms Wilaiwan's head hit a concrete block and she was knocked unconscious. She was put on a respirator by an emergency unit and rushed to the provincial hospital.

The tourists on the elephant's back were unhurt.

Riangthongbat Meephan, manager of the Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal, said Phlai Big was clever and usually good-tempered. He had long been used to take tourists sightseeing.

Urai Sala-ngam, the 43-year-old mahout, said Phlai Big did not like raw bananas and disliked being forced to take things.

After the incident, the elephant was taken back to the kraal to be calmed down.

Police did not immediately lay any charges over what happened, saying they needed to question  eyewitnesses and Ms Wilaiwan.


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