Elephant "Spa Month" Rewards Hard Labor

Elephant
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August 23, 2007, Guruvayur, IndiaSenior mahouts, or elephant trainers, bathe an elephant in a pond during heavy rain on the grounds of the Punnathur Kotta, a palace in southern India on August 11, 2007.

Trainers assemble about 60 elephants every year in the first week of July for a month of "spa" treatments following the principles of ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine system. The palace is about 52 miles (80 kilometers) north of Cochin in the southern state of Kerala (See map of India).

"The camp is held during monsoon season, because the cool climate is best for treatment," vetinerary doctor T.C.R. Nambiar told the television channel IBNLive.

The Guruvayur Devasom, administrators of a temple in Guruvayur began the elephant-rejuvenation camp in 1985 as a way to give the elephants a rest and help them regain their health after eleven months of temple duties.

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—Photograph by E.V. Sreekumar
 
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