Wild elephant damages cars on tourist road in Yunnan

Wild elephant damages cars on tourist road in Yunnan
Zhusunya, a wild elephant, damaged 15 parked cars on Friday on a national highway in Yunnan province.
PHOTO: China Daily/ANN

A wild elephant strayed onto a national highway in Yunnan province during the Spring Festival holiday and damaged 15 parked cars.

The animal, named Zhusunya, left the Wild Elephant Valley Scenic Area in the province's Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture on Friday afternoon and walked onto a section of the G213 National Highway, according to local police.

Pictures and video of the elephant walking down the road, swinging its trunk and legs at the cars it passed, were published online and went viral over the holiday.

In his 20 minutes on the loose, Zhusunya dented door panels and broke several car windows before disappearing back into the scenic area.

A member of staff with the scenic area said the elephant had been acting erratically in recent days.

Nearby roads were closed by police during the incident, and scenic area workers warned people away from the elephant to ensure their safety.

The scenic area authority said its insurance company had carried out an investigation and would compensate for all damages caused.

It said wild elephants had been increasingly active since the prefecture entered its dry season, with tourists able to spot the animals almost every day during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.

Specific passageways have been set aside in the scenic area for elephants to traverse roads. Park workers said it was rare for an elephant to deviate from these trails and walk onto the main road.

The Wild Elephant Valley is a tropical rain forest park that opened in 1996, with a total area of 370 hectares.

It is a popular draw for tourists with its populations of buffaloes, green peafowls and macaques.

Home to around 300 wild Asian elephants, which are a protected species in China, the area is the only place in the prefecture that tourists can observe the animals in large herds.

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