Rare White Elephant Captured In Burma

A white elephant was captured near Rangoon, Myanmar, also known as Burma. The elegant creature was first spotted six weeks ago, back in January, in a reserve in Pathein township. On Friday, it was announced the rare elephant was captured in the western Ayeyarwaddy region.

According to USA Today, forestry official Tun Tun Oo states that the white elephants is 7-years-old. Since the six-foot-three-inch tall animal was wild, forestry officials had to use extreme caution.

"We had to be careful," he said. "It's wild. We didn't want the elephant or the forestry department officials to get hurt."

White elephants are not a special breed or species. They are, actually, albino Asian elephants and are revered in Burma, Thailand, and other Asian nations.

This is the ninth white elephant in captivity in the country. Most were captured from the Ayeyarwaddy region. Five of the nine elephants are housed at the zoo in Naypyitaw, the country's capital, and three others are in Yangon's zoo. It is currently unknown where the newly caught white elephant will be housed.

Many people in Burma and other Asian nations believe the white elephants bring good luck to the country. The animals, which have a pinkish skin color with fair eyelashes and toenails, were traditionally kept and pampered by monarchs. The rare elephants served as a symbol of royal power and prosperity.

Yahoo! News reports that the capture of a white elephant usually results in a celebration.

"Previous white elephants transported from Myanmar's jungles have been heralded in lavish ceremonies in which military leaders sprinkle them with scented water laced with gold, silver and precious gems."

In the 16th century, a war between Siam and Burma -- Thailand and Myanmar, respectively -- was fought to dispute the ownership of four white elephants. Yes, they are that important to the people.

The World Wildlife Fund reports that there are between 25,600 and 32,750 Asian elephants left in the wild. The males grow tusks and are often poached in order to claim the ivory.

Aside from poaching, the Asian elephant population is at risk due to the animals being captured for domestic use. Some countries have banned the capture of wild animals, however, every year in Myanmar some elephants still fall prey to the timber industry or illegal wildlife trade.

How do you feel about the white elephant being captured? Do you think the rare animal should have stayed in the wild?

[Photo Courtesy of YE AUNG THU, AFP/Getty Images]