King's Cup Elephant Polo

Last Updated: July 24,2019

How the elephant is connected with sport

While elephants and sports aren't connected in any way in the western culture, they are part of several religious festivals on the other part of the world. Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are hosting the King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament from past few decades. After the first appearance of the Elephant Polo Tournament in 1982, this sport has now become one of the largest Thai festivals. Thousands of tourists take part in the King's cup every year – making it a significant sport in the Thai tourism calendar.

The King's Cup Elegant Polo is an elephant polo championship played separately in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Nepal annually. Rules are the same in all three countries where two teams compete against each other. 

Each team consists of five elephants and five humans and play to win the prize. Instead of a money prize, the winner gets a bronze trophy. Due to a number of animal abuse complaints in the past few years, there were rather a dramatic increase in the allegations of animal cruelty appeared during the King's Cup Elephant Polo 2018 in Thailand. The 2018 King's Cup Elephant Polo in Thailand was a huge success with sponsors including IBM, Peroni, PwC, and Johnnie Walker.  


Where is it held?

The King's Cup Elephant Polo Anantara has been held in Bangkok from the past 3 years. The game is played along the iconic Chao Phraya River at an extensive expanse if green grass.  

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Can everyone take part in the tournament? 

Yes, the tournament is open to everyone with an entry fee of BHT 200. 

Difference with traditional polo

We all know, a traditional polo game is played with men riding the houses trying to hit a ball with a long stick against the opponent team. Both teams are instructed to goal and defend in their perspective areas. However, the King's Cup consists of elephants instead of horses. Here is how elephant polo is played.

  • Each team is consisting of 3 elephants

  • Two players ride on each elephant 

  • The person who controls the elephant is called jockey 

  • And the other person is responsible to hit the ball with a long stick

Like traditional polo, both teams compete against each other to hit the ball in the opponent's net goal, while both teams also defend against each other to prevent goals. Firstly, the King's Cup Elephant Polo was played with a soccer ball until they realize that elephants like popping balls – later they changed it to the original polo ball.



King's Cup Elephant Polo Festival 2018

The King's Cup Elephant Polo 2018 featured a wide range of elephant activities including an efficient opening parade, the Bangkok Ascot known as Ladies day, children's education day, and other entertaining activities like DJs, music, food stalls and more. The Elephant Polo Cup 2018 was celebrated from March 8th – 11th, 2018 along the banks of Bangkok's famous Phraya River – a beautiful site with green grass. 

There were 20 elephants that took part in the Elephant Polo Cup, the managing party made sure that all the elephants are unemployed ex-street and had a full veterinary check from the Zoological Organization of Thailand. The tournament and its activities were strictly undertaken by the Department of Livestock Development and the Majesty the King of Thailand. Moreover, the authorities made sure that all elephants are given adequate vitamins, food, nutrition's, and other facilities that aren't available to ordinary elephants.            

Specialty of King's Cup Elephant Polo Festival

The King's Cup Elephant Polo 2018 started with an impressive opening parade and a blessing wish by the “Elephant Spirit Men”. An abbot and a Brahmin priest undertake the opening ceremony before the game begins. Invited guests at the tournament did dinner at the Anantara Siam Bangkok and joined an auction to buy ancient Cartier Clocks. 

The invited guests stayed at the famous Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara in Oman. The third day included the women's day where women got on the grounds in polo styled dresses and fascinating jewelry. Moreover, there were botanical-infused drinks, ice-cold beers, sausage sandwiches, and special relaxing massages to keep the guests satisfied and entertained. Many Thai international celebrities and sportsman also participated in the tournament.          

Contribute to the protection of elephants

Throughout the tournament, all responsible authorities including the Department of Livestock made sure that the elephants were not illegally captured. Al the 25 participating elephants were also thoroughly indulged by various veterinary checks, served with fruit buffets, and feed with heaps of hay and water pools. 

The elephants in Thailand holds utmost importance and King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament brings attention, joy, and hope to an urgent yet serious matter. This includes the protection of whole wildlife along with the elephants and takes further steps and adequate measures for animal protection. The King's Cup Elephant Polo has become one of the largest charitable events in Southeast Asia which raised over $1.4 million so far to be utilized in projects benefiting wildlife – especially elephants. The tournament was introduced to Thailand for the first time in 2001 by Anantara. 

Now after a decade and six years, the King's Cup has become one of the biggest charitable event raising over $1.5 million that contributes to a better Thailand's wildlife. Many steps have been taken to improve the domesticated elephant population in Thailand including an autistic therapy project and the opening of elephant corridors in Kui Buri National part in southwest Thailand, an elephant hospital in Krabi. 

Apart from the elephant events, the best way to touch an elephant in their natural enviroment is to join in an elephant sancturay program. The experience is highly praised for travellers and social. It's not to disturb their peaceful life for their health so some of the activities might therefore be changed. During the program, you will have chance to make food for them, feed and walk them in lush jungle. These can be tailored to include Thailand tour like Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket etc. Our travel advisors can help you tailor-make a tour according to all your requirements. See the following for inspiration.

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