Two more tuskers donated to Korea

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Two more tuskers donated to Korea

Call it tusker diplomacy. The Sri Lanka government recently decided to donate a pair of elephants to Korea by the end of July, a month after Cambodia donated two elephants for a Seoul zoo.

According to Seoul diplomatic sources, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has offered a pair of five-year-old elephants, one female and one male, to the Global Love Sharing Center, a Seoul-based civic group, to thank the group for its efforts to help migrant workers from Sri Lanka.

“President Rajapaksa, as a token of gratitude to Kim Hae-sung, the head of Global Love Sharing Center, expressed an intention to donate the elephants, and the Sri Lankan government has taken necessary steps for the donation process,” said the official who declined to be named. The elephants will likely arrive in Korea as early as this month, said the official. The Global Love Sharing Center will donate the pair to Seoul Zoo.

Earlier this month, Cambodia donated a pair of elephants after the Foreign Ministry and Seoul city government asked for help in light of an aging and infertile elephant population in Korean zoos. The two elephants were flown here in a specially outfitted Air Force C-130 cargo plane. They are now in Seoul Children’s Grand Park.

It’s very difficult to buy or sell elephants because they are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

“Cambodia and Sri Lanka have willingly donated the elephants because of their friendly relations with Korea, despite the difficulty of getting the animals out,” said the source. “The so-called ‘elephant diplomacy’ is becoming a symbol of our deepening diplomatic relations with Southeast Asian countries.”

Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, during a meeting with Cambodia’s Secretary of State, Long Visalo, at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on July 9, expressed gratitude for the donation, the official said.


By Kang Chan-ho [hawon@joongang.co.kr]
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