Thai elephant kills guide and runs off with tourists

Male animal gored its handler to death during ride in jungle

Tourists ride atop Asian elephants, Chaweng, island of Ko Samui, Thailand

An elephant in Thailand gored its handler to death before running off into the jungle with three tourists on its back.

Police in northern Thailand said the family of three were enjoying a ride on the male elephant, a popular activity for tourists in the country, when it suddenly turned on its handler.

Speaking to AFP, Colonel Thawatchai Thepboon, police commander of Mae Wang district in Chiang Mai province, said: "The mahout who was killed was not familiar with the elephant. They [the tourists] are safe now."

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Thailand's Channel 3 broadcast footage of the tourists being led back to camp on the elephant's back after it was calmed down by other mahouts.

A similar incident occurred in November last year, when an elephant trampled its handler to death in southern Thailand and ran off with two Russian tourists on its back.

According to the Independent, the male elephant had to be tranquilised for the mother and her nine-year-old son to be rescued.

Many animal rights groups say elephant rides are cruel, causing stress and exhaustion.

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