Elephant orphaned by poachers finds new home
August 16, 1999
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- A baby elephant, seized by poachers after they killed her mother, has found a new family at a Cambodian zoo.
Eight-month-old Samnang ("Lucky") was rescued by authorities when the poachers tried to sell her on the black market. Now she is being cared for by zookeepers at Cambodia's main zoo south of the capital, Phnom Penh.
Her keeper, Try Sitheng, said Samnang has come to see him as her new mother and refuses to leave his side. He said the elephant would eventually be trained to give rides to tourists at the zoo.
Samnang is not old enough for an adult diet of grass and sugarcane, so instead she dines on a special mixture of rice soup and sugar.
Every year, poachers hunt elephants, tigers and other wild animals for sale or for their body parts. Male elephants are especially popular with smugglers for their tusks. Poachers shoot the mothers and take their calves.
Wildlife experts estimate that there are fewer than 2,000 elephants left in Cambodia, both wild and domesticated.
Reports say poaching has already pushed much of the country's wildlife to the brink of extinction.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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