Hsin Hpyu Daw

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White elephants are considered auspicious in Southeast Asian tradition, and for centuries the region’s rulers have prized albino pachyderms, which are believed to confer good luck, prosperity, and a long reign for Burmese kings  . The custom has endured into the modern era. In a small temple set in a park in the north of the city, out toward the airport, Myanmar’s former Tatmadaw (military) rulers have housed three white elephants that were discovered in the forests of Rakhine. The trio,  not so much white as reddish- brown, have a specially built  waterfall in which to bathe and a shaded enclosure to protect their albino skin from the sun. However, many people – encouraged to visit by the city’s tour guides – find the sight of these large animals kept hobbled in chains an unedifying experience.

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