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Animal Lovers Say Abbot Abuses Elephant

The latest target of animal lovers in Thailand is a Buddhist abbot who has kept an elephant chained to a tree for almost 20 years.

Since the abbot bought Diamond at 9 months of age, the elephant has been restrained to a dead tree in the temple compound with a short, tight chain that has injured his leg.

Thai newspapers reported the animal’s plight after monsoon floods recently inundated the temple in Pathum Thani, 16 miles north of Bangkok, and Diamond was left to fend for himself in the high water.

The abbot uses the elephant to attract worshipers and donations, wildlife activists said Monday.

The elephant “is so skinny, bony and not healthy, especially mentally,” said Leutchai Kladsri, from the Friends of the Asian Elephants Foundation.

“I have raised him for over 19 years. I never torture him,” the abbot, Pra Kru Udom Pawana-pirat, told the Thai newspaper Khao Sod.