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Kings Cup Elephant Polo 2011



Melissa Richter for "What in Travel"
September 22, 2011

What do rescued street elephants, autistic children, a bevy of international celebrities and polo enthusiast from around the globe all have in common? The answer is the 10th Annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament.   

This highly anticipated event took place in the idyllic seaside town of Hua Hin on September 4 -11 and was hosted once again by Anantara Resort & Spa.  Renowned as one of Thailand’s premier charity events, this years Kings Cup was  bigger than ever and included a plethora of activities geared at raising awareness and funds for Thailand’s iconic gentle giant… the elephant.

With a 3,000 seat stadium for the fans, free admission,  a luxurious VIP tent on the pitch and some of the cleanest 5-star-style 'port-a-potties ever, Anantara once again exceeded expectations and took the Kings Cup to the next level.  In addition to five action packed days of exhibition games and polo tournaments from 12 international polo teams; there was plenty of field side fanfare including brass band parades, extravagant blessing ceremonies preformed by monks and elephant spirit men, and a one of a kind “elephant buffet” where the pachyderms are led out on the field to enjoy a “pig out party” on overflowing tables of fruits and vegetables.

Anantara brought something new to the table this year with the addition of a “Junior Roving Elephant Reporter”. They searched the world over for an aspiring young journalist to attend the week long Kings Cup and deliver international coverage and on site interviews of all the action taking place during the week. Ms. Ann Skelly, a 14 year old from Ireland, was announced as the proud winner.  [view  photos and videos]
   
The Ele-Auction is another innovative idea, where Anantara partnered up with some of the world’s biggest international personalities of the screen, stage, fashion and business worlds and asked them to paint and decorate an elephant replica that was auctioned off on the September 10th gala dinner. 14 celebrities participated, including the popular US. band Lady Antebellum, Thai singer/songwriter Stamp Apiwat and Park Jung Min, one of Korea biggest K-pop stars.

It’s easy to get mesmerized by all the glitz and glamour, but the Kings Cup is a heartfelt charity event with far reaching benefits for Thai children and the Thai elephants. In 2010, the tournament raised 1.8 million baht for the Thai Elephant Therapy Project (TETP), which trains rescued elephants to work in a ground breaking alternative therapy program which helps autistic children improve their occupational, social and emotional skills. In addition to helping children with autism, funds raised from Kings Cup will be used to launch the first and only elephant hospital in southern Thailand, as well as partially fund a human-elephant conflict project between the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), and the Elephant Conservation Network (ECN) charity.

Not only do the spectators enjoy first class treatment, but the elephants are pampered and treated with the utmost integrity. Each year since its inception in 2001, over twenty young elephants are taken off the streets for the two week period of the tournament and have the opportunity to experience living in a native forest environment where they enjoy the best food possible, and gain access to veterinary services which they might not have received otherwise.  


Kings Cup is more than just a novelty polo tournament, it’s a fabulous mix of first class fun and philanthropy that has far reaching benefits for children and elephants throughout the year.
For more information please contact +66 2 365 7676 or visit http://www.anantaraelephantpolo.com