The Truth behind the Viral photo of 900 kg “Albino Elephant” in Thailand

Even though albino animals are rare in nature, they get spotted once in a while from many parts of the world among a variety of species. These unique creatures have a partial or complete loss of pigmentation, resulting in their pale skin tone compared to other species members.

Sometimes, misleading social media posts go viral regarding albino animals; let’s look at one such claim which gets shared from time to time.

Social media posts claim that a 900kg albino elephant lives like royalty in Thailand.

Most users believed this to be an actual rare white elephant as seen from the comments section.

We decided to do a fact check on this.

From reverse image search, we found that these viral posts of white elephant were attributed to an occasion of Aadi Swadhi at Thiruchendur Sri Arulmigu Subramaniya Swamy Temple, India. 

The Facebook page of an Indian regional magazine reported the incident with the same set of photos as that of the viral social media post. The post reveals the elephant was painted from white ashes/paints and not an albino being. 

Furthermore, upon close inspection, we noticed that the hands of the elephant handler were covered in white ash, implying that the body of this elephant was covered with white ash.

Why was the elephant in the post painted white?

The elephant in the post was painted white for a Hindu religious festival called Aadi Swadhi. Aadi Swadhi is a festival that celebrates the birth of the Hindu god Subramanya. During Aadi Swadhi, it is customary to paint elephants white as a sign of respect for Subramanya.

What is an albino elephant?

An albino elephant is an elephant that has a genetic condition called albinism. Albinism is a condition in which the body does not produce enough melanin, a pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color. Albino elephants are extremely rare, and there are only a few known to exist in the world.

What is a white elephant?

A white elephant is an elephant that has a white coat. White elephants are not albino, but their white coat is caused by a different genetic mutation. White elephants are more common than albino elephants but are still relatively rare.

What is the significance of white elephants in Hinduism?

White elephants are considered sacred in Hinduism. They are often seen as symbols of good luck and prosperity. In some Hindu temples, white elephants are kept as sacred animals.

The White Elephant Is Not a Legend | Elephant, Albino animals, Rare albino  animals


The viral set of photos claiming to be a 900kg albino elephant living like royalty in Thailand is miscaptioned. The images in the post are actually of a white elephant in India that was covered in white ash for a religious festival. Albino elephants are extremely rare.

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