Thais free 1,066 tur­tles to cel­e­brate King’s birth­day

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Hun­dreds of Thai school­child­ren and naval of­fi­cers sent 1,066 tur­tles scut­tling into the sea yes­ter­day in a cer­e­mony aimed at bring­ing good fortune to the new King Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, who turns 65 to­mor­row. The sea tur­tles, seen as sym­bols of longevity, wad­dled into the waves off Sat­tahip naval base in Chon­buri prov­ince. Many Thai Bud­dhists view free­ing cap­tive an­i­mals such as tur­tles or birds as a way to ac­crue good karma.

“Sea tur­tles are long-liv­ing an­i­mals. If we re­lease them, it will help His Majesty to have a long life too,” said Ea­garat Prom­lumpug, an of­fi­cer who helps run the navy’s tur­tle con­ser­va­tion pro­gram. The num­ber of freed tur­tles is seen as aus­pi­cious, with the ‘66’-one more year than the king’s age-rep­re­sent­ing the wish for his longevity. The cen­tre col­lects thou­sands of tur­tle eggs an­nu­ally and nur­tures the rep­tiles be­fore re­leas­ing them into the Gulf of Thai­land. Royal birth­days are met with a flurry of fan­fare and re­li­gious cer­e­monies in Thai­land, where the monar­chy is seen a pil­lar of moral au­thor­ity.

Va­ji­ra­longkorn’s birth­day, July 28, was de­clared a public hol­i­day by the rul­ing junta af­ter he took the throne late last year. His fa­ther Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, who passed away in Oc­to­ber 2016, was wor­shipped as a near demi-god dur­ing his 70-year reign. Va­ji­ra­longkorn has yet to at­tract that level of de­vo­tion. All royal fam­ily mem­bers are shielded from crit­i­cism by a dra­co­nian defama­tion law that has landed of­fend­ers decades in jail and forces all me­dia in Thai­land to self-cen­sor.—AFP

THAI­LAND: A man nudges a sea tur­tle into the Gulf of Thai­land dur­ing the an­nual tur­tle con­ser­va­tion re­lease event at the Royal Thai Navy Sea Tur­tle Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre in Sat­tahip yes­ter­day.—AFP

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