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    Apr 26, 2016

    Petition to stop Angkor Wat rides after elephant dies


    UNUSUALLY hot temperature has killed a tourist-ferrying elephant in Cambodia, which died while working near the Angkor Wat temple complex, prompting an online petition for an end to the site's elephant ride.

    The 45-year-old female elephant named Sambo collapsed and died around 1pm on Friday in front of Bayon Temple, about 1.7km north of Angkor Wat, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

    According to Oan Kiri, spokesman for the Angkor Elephant Company which Sambo worked for since 2001, the elephant passed out after taking two trips from Bayon to the Phnom Bakheng temple, which sits on a hill overlooking Angkor Wat.

    The trips took 40 minutes altogether and Sambo had just brought back a pair of tourists to Bayon when it keeled over.

    "A veterinarian check led us to conclude that Sambo had died of a heart attack triggered by high temperatures and lack of wind," added Mr Kiri.

    Man Chhoeun, chief of Siem Reap province's heritage protection police which manages Angkor Wat, told Cambodia Daily that the high temperature on Friday hitting 41 deg C at noon must have contributed to Sambo's death.

    The incident saddened the villagers living nearby, as well as the tourists who witnessed it, reported the Khmerload.

    Sambo was buried hours later in a farm near Bayon, added the newspaper.

    Photos posted by Facebook user Yem Senok showing Sambo lying on the ground have been shared more than 8,000 times.

    A petition was subsequently put up on the United States-based website, calling for an end to elephant riding at the Angkor Wat.

    The initiative has since garnered over 13,000 signatures.

    "Animals too have flesh like men. The tenders of Sambo know nothing about long-term care for animals," wrote netizen Mith Sokha in Phnom Penh Post's Facebook page.

    Jack Highwood from the Cambodia-based Elephant Valley Project, a non-government organisation, said Angkor Elephant Company would lose the service of its remaining 13 elephants if it does not know how to look after them.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Cambodians in his Facebook post on Friday that at least nine out of the country's 25 provinces were hit badly by a heat wave, resulting in severe drought.