"Sunday Mass" Takes On A New Meaning In Sri Lanka
On Sunday, June 10, a christening was held for 15 baby elephants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka. The starting initial for each name was selected by an astrologer based on their birth dates and times for the luckiest and most advantageous letters. The names for the junior pachyderms had then been suggested by visitors.
The orphanage, which first opened in 1975, is situated in a coconut grove 50 miles from Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital. There are 83 elephants in residence at the orphanage, most of whom were orphaned or separated from their families. Many, like the newly christened babies, were born at the orphanage.
Thirteen of the calves were born in 2011 and two were born in 2010 at the orphanage. The babies' names are: Singithi, Ahinsa, Themiya, Wanamali, Nandi, Mangala, Annuththara, Jeevaka, Kadol, Isira, Bimuthi, Aithi, Gagana, and "foreign" favorites Trinky and Elvina.
In the biggest event ever at the facility, the babies were all given milk and then walked to the nearby river for a bath.
Elephants are considered sacred in Sri Lanka and several of the animals have been given to Buddhist temples to be paraded during annual pageants. Their sacred status has no doubt helped their survival in the wild on the island nation amid skirmishes between government forces and rebels during a bloody civil war. During a study conducted last year, it was determined that there are 7,379 elephants remaining in the wild, despite concerns that the population might have dwindled considerably below that level. In 1900 the country had 12,000 elephants in the wild.
Source: Discovery News
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger