Temple Elephants

I mentioned to Sunil that we’d seen an elephant being calmly transported in the back of a truck through Kandy. He told me this would have been a temple elephant on its way to perform ecclesiastical duties somewhere.

Special truck for transporting temple elephants

Apparently, Sri Lanka boasts a whole network of temple elephants, a kind of Masonic club, except not so secret, and without any hidden handshake. These bastions of the Buddhist faith live at their designated temples in return for performing agile ceremonial duties. They are born and raised in captivity, the same as their offspring too will form the next generation of temple elephants.

Not a temple elephant

Sometimes they go on tour and are transported to other temples to perform a gig there. They each have their own brand of trumpeting, dancing, and costume, yet are highly domesticated as is obvious by the calm way in which they stand in the back of their elephant-mobile without hooting at other road users or using the old elephant “up yours mate” raised trunk gesture.

The director of Elephants on A Plane

Wild elephants of course could never be persuaded to joy ride in a truck. Rather like King Kong, they’d smash down the bars, kick over the chassis, grab an orange robed monk in their trunk, and climb up to the highest pinnacle of The Temple of The Tooth. Indeed, King Jumbo, is one film that will never be made. There is however interest in an elephant version of Gravity, given the aesthetic appeal of elephant butts, and failing that then a sequel to Snakes on A Plane, the even more eccentric Elephants on A Plane.

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