Muthu Raja has returned to his home country after allegations of torture and neglect. The elephant was gifted by the Thai government to Sri Lanka, but has now been flown back after the allegations.
Thai authorities demanded the elephant back last year. It claimed Muthu Raja was being tortured and neglected at the Buddhist temple where it lived. It is unclear exactly how Sri Lanka reacts to the accusations.
The 4,000-kilogram creature, flew from Colombo airport on Sunday morning on a one-way ticket to Thailand. 29-year-old Muthu Raja was transported from his temporary home in Colombo in a custom-made steel cage the size of a shipping container. According to the Thai authorities, the return of the elephant costs 700,000 dollars.
After arriving in Chiang Mai, Muthu Raja will be quarantined in a nearby nature reserve.
According to the Chief Veterinarian at Dehiwala Zoo in Sri Lanka, Muthu Raja was in pain and covered in boils when it was rescued from its previous home last year. Animal rights groups believe that the Buddhist temple forced Muthu Raja to work for a logging company.
Thailand’s government has stopped sending elephants abroad. It is now in the process of checking the condition of the elephants that were previously sent.