LANGKAWI: Lasah, the 37-year-old elephant that shot to fame after being featured in the movie “Anna and the King”, can expect better care as the natural resources and environment ministry has allowed it to remain with the Langkawi Elephant Adventures (LEA) facility.
LEA director Jason Loh welcomed the decision, saying it would allow the facility to continue improving Lasah’s well-being.
“In fact, we have complied with all the (international) guidelines and regulations governing the management and involvement of animals in interactive programmes, even before the guidelines were established (and enforced in Malaysia),” he told Bernama here.
He was responding to a recent a statement by the ministry announcing the evaluation committee’s recommendation for the elephant to remain under LEA’s care.
The committee, headed by the ministry’s deputy secretary-general, Azimuddin Bahari, was formed following a working visit by minister Wan Junaidi to the LEA site at the Oriental Village here last March.
According to the ministry’s statement, checks by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (Mazpa), found that the elephant was in healthy condition.
“The LEA management complied with all the regulations set by Perhilitan, and this report was supported by a consultant for wildlife management,” it said.
LEA is required to continue providing updated health reports prepared by an appointed veterinarian, and to comply with all standards determined at national or international levels on the well-being of wildlife under captivity.
Since 2015, NGO Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia (FOTO) has campaigned for the release of Lasah, alleging that LEA, the operators of the Oriental Village here, abused the elephant by chaining it and depriving the animal of sleep.
The NGO also circulated a photograph of the elephant chained on all four legs and started an online petition demanding that Lasah be relocated to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Pahang.
FOTO’s campaign continued despite LEA’s explanations on the radical healing treatment Lasah was undergoing, which had been recommended by a certified veterinarian.
“I wouldn’t know what the agenda is behind them (FOTO) continuing with their campaign, but they have not been fair to us,” Loh said.
The campaign however led to Wan Junaidi’s visit to Langkawi in March, accompanied by relevant experts to check on the elephant.
“As the minister in charge, I need to hear from all parties and to see for myself the real situation. Whatever decision made will be for the best of the elephant,” he told reporters during the visit.