Nine injured by startled elephant at Night Safari

A STARTLED elephant barrelled into a crowd of tourists at Chiang Mai Night Safari on Saturday, mowing down nine, who were offered lifetime passes and Bt30,000 as compensation.

The 23-year-old pachyderm named Lamduan had participated in the animal parade for the first time.

Four of the injured were in a serious condition and had to stay at the hospital. The other five were allowed to go home.

Sent to Chiang Mai Hospital were Thongyip Eimsawad from Bangkok, Wiyada Sriprapha from Chiang Mai, Chalalai Pingkhum from Chiang Mai, Sermsiriluk Eidsin from Bangkok, Wachira Padungsuk from Bangkok, Kulnaree Pisankul from Chiang Mai, Lalita Malijant from Bangkok, Pramint Phussornyothin from Phayao and Sagunya Yenjit from Chiang Mai.

Thongyip with broken feet and 21 stitches for a cut, while Wiyada had a broken right foot; Chalalai had back pain after falling, and Sermsiriluk, who is five-months pregnant, was being monitored.

Sarawut Srisakul, manager of Chiang Mai Night Safari, visited the patients at the hospital on Saturday. He gave lifetime passes to all nine victims, plus Bt30,000 to three people still in hospital and Bt10,000 to the mother-to-be.

The zoo would cover all medical expenses for the nine, he said.

Zoo staff have already put up barriers and increased the distance between animals and the audience.

They said Lamduan was normally gentle and familiar with people - but may have been panicked by a camera's flash or when a baby lion and tiger joined the parade.

It would take 15 days to investigate the incident. Jumbos have temporarily been banned from the parade and more barriers would be used to keep tourists safe.

Zookeepers also treated the elephant for wounds caused by crashing into a cement barrier, he said.