The Surin Elephant Round-up is a cultural festival held every year in Surin Province, Isan, Thailand. Usually the event is organized during the third week of November on the weekend. The festival has its origins in the royal hunts which were conducted in Surin Province during medieval times. The indigenous residents of Surin, the Kuy, have been traditional practitioners of corralling elephants and training them as working animals. When the Ayutthaya Kingdom came into power these hunts were converted into a public extravaganza and wild elephants were replaced with tame ones. The festival, in its contemporary form, was first organized in the 1960s when civil war in Cambodia and the steady decline in economic value of elephants forced the elephant handlers (mahouts) to seek occupations in the entertainment and tourism industry.
Modern day elephant festival
The modern two-day event includes a variety of shows displaying the physical prowess and skill of the animals, such as soccer games and tugs of war with the Royal Thai Army. Elephants painting pictures, playing polo, and whirling hula hoops on their trunks are also incorporated into the show. Numerous floats are put on display. The venue for the event, Si Narong Stadium, has been dubbed the “world’s largest domestic elephant village” by the Tourism Authority of Thailand