Burma: rare birth of a white elephant in the west of the country

A rare white elephant, seen by many in the Buddhist-majority country as a sign of good fortune, was born in late July in a region of western Myanmar, state media said on Wednesday. Born on July 23 in Rakhine State, the pachyderm weighed nearly 80 kilograms at birth and was about 70 centimeters tall, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported. It has seven of the eight characteristics associated with albino elephants, including “pearl-colored eyes”, “white coat”, “distinctive tail”, according to the official daily.

Only six white elephants in the country

Her 33-year-old mother, named Zar Nan Hla, is cared for by a state-owned timber company. Footage released by the state broadcaster showed the baby elephant, which has yet to be named, playing in the water with its mother.

The very rare white elephants are considered an auspicious gem in some Southeast Asian Buddhist cultures, which associate them with symbols of royalty. There are six in captivity in the capital Naypyidaw, according to state media, mostly from Rakhine state and Ayeyarwady (south).

A birth that questions

On social media, some comments were skeptical, amid heightened tensions in Burma, which has been plunged into chaos since the February 1, 2021 military coup and subsequent junta crackdown on opponents. “Am I colorblind or does the elephant only look gray to me?” asked one of them, while another said: “Now the poor elephant will have to go to prison.”

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