Since its inception, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament has built a reputation as a not-to-be-missed charity event that attracts visitors from all around the world to enjoy a uniquely Thai elephant experience.

The main goal of the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is to create real and lasting change for elephants in need in the Kingdom today. The annual event was awarded a silver medal for Sports CSR Initiative of the Year at the Asia Sports Industry Awards in 2016.

The welfare of the elephants participating in the polo tournament is paramount, with strict rules in place to ensure that the pachyderms are well cared for at all times. Thanks to Thailand’s advanced micro-chipping programme for all legal domesticated elephants and research into DNA tagging, by imposing a “no micro-chip, no game” rule, Anantara guarantees that all elephants who play have been domestically bred and not captured from the wild or smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Each elephant is limited to a maximum of half an hour play per day, with at least 90 minutes out relaxing or eating a well-balanced meal between each 14 minute game.  Due to the nature of the game those 14 minutes of exercise are generally spread over a whole hour – even in a game with no stoppages there is a 15 minute break between halves.

In addition to the 30 rescued street elephants who now enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort’s onsite Elephant Camp, the annual event allows a further 20 young elephants to be taken off the streets during the tournament, providing them with a native forest environment, the best food possible, as well as the only proper veterinary check and vitamins they receive all year.

Street life can be brutal for an elephant, walking through crowded tourist areas and busy roads for ten hours a night, forced to rest during the day often without shade and water.  The King’s Cup schedule is deliberately designed to give these elephants rest and relaxation on a scale they are never afforded in their ‘normal’ lives.

Anantara always ensures that the elephants are treated as well as our two-legged guests, while the event also plays a crucial role in raising much needed funds to help protect all of Thailand’s elephants and their heritage. This important work is carried out by Anantara’s own elephant charity – the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF).

Through the generosity of participants and spectators at the lively annual charity auction and during the tournament, Anantara has raised approximately US$1.5 million to date which has gone to various charities that benefits the elephants of Thailand. These include housing for the mahouts and families, shelters for the elephants and a mobile blood centrifuge and elephant ambulance for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC).

Funds from the 2017 event were donated to