Big babies! Touching images of elephants born during Thai floods play-fighting in their pen

By Hugo Gye

Wrestling: These two-month-old elephants are playing in the mud at their wildlife centre

These playful young elephants are showing off their high spirits as they wrestle in the mud.

Having been born during Thailand's devastating floods, the pair have lived in wet conditions for their whole lives.

The animals - Plai Boon Rueng and Plai Phu Khao Thong - are part of a breeding programme which aims to save the severely endangered species.

Play-fight: Plai Boon Rueng and Plai Phu Khao Thong show off their prowess

They were born at the Royal Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya, just to the north of Thailand's capital Bangkok.

The centre is currently home to more than 90 elephants, including 10 new babies.

One of those babies is Saen Laan, shown on his third day of life bonding with his trainer - or mahout - Jah Reupong.

It is important for elephants to form good relationships with their mahouts, as the trainers care for them throughout their childhood.

Exhausted: Tired out from their exertions, the pair relax in the mud

Bond: An even younger elephant, Saen Laan, is tended by his mahout Jah Reupong at the Royal Elephant Kraal

Elephants have traditionally had a very important ceremonial role in Thailand, and have a particularly close connection to the nation's king.

The modern-day animals now participate in re-enactments of ancient ceremonies involving the monarchy.

Thailand is now recovering from the floods which swept the country throughout the autumn, and which caused 657 fatalities and £30billion worth of damage.

Playful: Mr Reupong bonds with two-day-old Saen Laan and his mother Nam Poeng

Here I am: The newborn, with good-luck gifts of money round his neck, trumpets his arrival to the world



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