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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 11:59 UK

Elephant cured of drug addiction

File photograph of an Asian elephant
Asian elephants are considered an endangered species

An Asian elephant that became addicted to heroin after being fed bananas spiked with the drug is to return home after undergoing a detox programme.

The four-year-old animal, called Xiguang, received methadone injections for a year at five times the human dosage, state media said.

It was illegally captured by traders in 2005 in south-west China.

When police arrested the traders and freed the elephant, it was found to be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

The elephant's eyes kept streaming and he made continuous trumpeting noises, the Beijing News newspaper's website reported.

It is thought that the traders fed the elephant bananas laced with heroin to capture and control it.

Xiguang was sent to a wild animal protection centre on Hainan island in south-west China for rehab, the official Xinhua new agency said

He is expected to arrive at a wildlife park in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, on Saturday.

The Asian elephant is an endangered species, with only 25,600-32,750 left in the wild, according to the WWF conservation group.


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