Thailand annual King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament came to an end on Sunday. The event is organized by luxury hotel chain, Anantara and takes place in the resort town of Hua Hin.
This years polo tournament included 12 teams plus an exhibition match that featured players from New Zealand All Black rugby team and Tiffany's transvestite cabaret show from Pataya.
The event raised over $107,000 which will be distributed to different charities that support Thailand's elephants.
Thailand's King Power team came out on top, winnig the tournament. The events website stated, "Superior skills and strategy delivered a solid win for the King Power team over the Mercedes Benz team, ending their chance for a place in the finals on the second last day of play at the King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament."
In the end, it was Thailand's very own King Power team that took the top trophy, beating out the Audemars Piguet squad.
Some people criticize the use of elephants in the sometimes rough sport. Anantara replied in a statement according to CNN Go, "The welfare of the elephants participating in the polo tournament is paramount, with strict rules in place to ensure that the pachyderms are well cared for at all times.
Thanks to Thailand's advanced microchipping program for all legal domesticated elephants and research into DNA tagging, by imposing a 'no microchip, no game' rule, Anantara guarantees that all elephants who play have been domestically bred and not captured from the wild or smuggled in from neighboring countries."
The rules of elephant polo are similar to that of horse polo. In elephant polo however, the animals carry a player and a mahout, or an elephant trainer. Women are allowed to use both of their hands to swing the mallet and each team has three players.
The elephants chosen in the King's Cup tournament all must be young, preferably under 20 and are limited to a max o two games totaling less than 30 minutes a day. They also have at least 90 minutes in the forest, the river or feeding daily.