A rare white elephant has been born in Myanmar, state media said yesterday, unveiling what many in the Buddhist-majority country believe to be an auspicious creature.
Born last month in western Rakhine State, the baby weighs about 80kg and is about 70cm tall, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.
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.
Photo: AFP / Myanmar Military Information Team
The mother — a 33-year-old called Zar Nan Hla — is kept by Myanma Timber Enterprise in Rakhine, the Global New Light said, adding that the baby possessed seven of the eight characteristics associated with rare white elephants.
“Pearl-coloured eyes, 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 said.
Social media users first posted about the birth of the elephant, which has not yet been named, late last month.
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 appropriately lavish style gave rise to the modern expression in which a “white elephant” is a useless, if beautiful, possession.
There are six white elephants in captivity in the military-built capital, Naypyidaw, mostly from Rakhine and the southern Ayeyarwady region, state media said.
With Myanmar reeling from a military coup last year and its bloody crackdown on dissent, the reaction of many on social media was muted or skeptical.
“Am I colorblind if it just looks brown to me?” one person wrote.
“Elephants were important only in the old eras,” another said. “Now the poor elephant will have to go to jail.”
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