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The Green Life: Thailand's Elephants Get the Celebrity Treatment

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July 28, 2011

Thailand's Elephants Get the Celebrity Treatment

Great news for those IStock_Thai elephantwho happen to love mandolin twangs and pachyderms too: Charles Kelley of the Grammy-winning country group Lady Antebellum is teaming up with Thailand's King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament to raise money for Southeast Asia's elephants.

Along with elephant-loving celebrities from three other countries, including Thai beauty pagent winners and Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton's recently appointed style director, Kelley will deck out a tiny, bland elephant figurine called "George" with a trunkload of accessories. After the Georges have been thoroughly decorated and imbued with the value-raising celebrity touch, they'll be auctioned at a ritzy gala at the Anantara Hua Hin Resort and Spa on Sept. 10 to kick off the elephant polo festivities.

Throughout the King's Cup's brief history, which began in 2001, it's raised more than $300,000 for Thailand's elephant charities. Last year's proceeds went to the Thai Elephant Therapy Project, which pairs autistic children with elephants. This year's money goes to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which cares for injured and abused elephants. The group is also working to protect Thailand's remaining wild herd.

Though Asian elephants have gone extinct in many parts of their former habitat, their revered status in Thailand has been somewhat of a godsend. Through awareness-raising events like the King's Cup and the Amarin Outdoor Adventure Race, Thailand is cultivating a conservation movement worthy of its historical respect for the elephant.

Some other elephantastic organizations whose operations aren't limited to Southeast Asia include the International Elephant Foundation and the American Wildlife Foundation.

--Colin Griffin

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