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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 09:45 GMT
Valentine trunk call

A spectacular elephant wedding ceremony has been held in Thailand in a bid to raise public awareness of the plight of the country's dwindling elephant population.

Two pairs of elephants, from a local conservation centre, took part in the special event held in the town of Ayutthaya on Saint Valentine's day, the day on which lovers traditionally declare their feelings.

The female elephants wore pink costumes, their mates wore gold and in keeping with Thai tradition, dowries were paid before the elephants marked marriage certificates with their trunks. The BBC correspondent in Thailand says the elephant is still regarded as the national symbol of Thailand, but their numbers have diminshed rapidly, as has the jungle that was their habitat, and the decline of the logging industry has reduced some handlers to begging with their animals on the streets of the capital, Bangkok.

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