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Male Elephant Arrives in Thailand

January 27, 2000

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A male elephant born in Israel, where female pachyderm company is hard to come by, arrived by airplane in Thailand Thursday with hopes of finding true love.

Five-year old Chapati, whose parents were originally from Thailand, was sent off by 3,000 well-wishers in Jerusalem, where the elephant was born and raised in a zoo.

He touched down at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport and was greeted like a celebrity and fed a welcome breakfast of apples and bananas from a platter.

``He’s a male elephant and there’s no female elephants in Israel. It’s best for Chapati to come to Thailand to live a normal life,″ said Thai Agriculture Minister Pongpol Adireksan.

After the flight from Jerusalem inside a metal-barred traveling box, the 3,300 pound elephant looked perky and trumpeted happily.

Described by his handler as a ``beloved son of Jerusalem,″ Chapati is going to stay at an elephant conservation center in northern Lampang province where it is hoped he will find a mate.

Shai Doron, the director-general of the elephant’s old home at the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, said the best place in the world for Chapati was Thailand.

``In one way we are very sad to say good-bye to Chapati,″ Doron told Associated Press Television News. ``But we are also very happy for his future.″

David Matnai, Israel’s ambassador to Thailand, said the elephant’s voyage was a symbol of friendship between the countries.

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