Elephant "Spa Month" Rewards Hard Labor

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Elephants walk past a statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh on the grounds of Punnathur Palace in Guruvayur, India, on July 13, 2003.

The royal family of Punnathur sold the 500-year old-palace and the 12-acre (5-hectare) land to the local Sree Krishna temple in 1975 on the condition that it be used only for maintaining the elephants.

The temple currently takes care of 64 elephants, many of them donated by devotees. Rented to temples for use in festivals the elephants fetch about U.S $230,000 a year in total.

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—Photograph by E.V. Sreekumar
 
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