India state declares elephant holiday
Chennai - A southern Indian state on Wednesday ordered a vacation for elephants employed by temples as part of an official programme to "rejuvenate" the weary creatures, officials said.
State foresters herded 45 domestic pachyderms from Hindu shrines and hermitages in Tamil Nadu to the coastal state's Mudumalai forests for a 48-day break to help them regain lost vigour, they said.
"The elephants were brought in two batches in trucks from various temples and mutts [hermitages] across the state," said senior forest department official Ameer Haja.
They will eat a special diet of sugarcane, coconuts and banana laced with herbal medication and vitamins during their stay at the rejuvenation camp, Haja added.
Elephants form a traditional part of Hindu rituals in temples, where they bless pilgrims and devotees with their raised trunks. They are also trained to perform other physical duties at the shrines.