Everything about the donation procession for the local pagoda — a routine sight in villages around Myanmar — was going according to plan. Right up until the elephant went off script.
Dressed in traditional garments adorned with Burmese designs, and carrying a small child on a golden throne atop its back, an elephant in tiny Nat Kyat Kwal village yesterday suddenly broke into a charge, running past terrified crowds, some of whom captured the incident in videos now going viral on Facebook.
In the first video, accompanied by traditional music being blasted at full volume (naturally), the elephant can be seen slowly marching through the village, which lies just southeast of Mount Popa. At several points it seems to become disoriented, stopping and trying to turn around.
Just as it steps out of frame, however, all hell breaks loose, with the elephant taking off and screaming villagers chasing it down the dirt road.
You can briefly catch a glimpse of the charging elephant, the child and the elephant rider still on its back.
“The elephant is running away! The elephant has the child!” villagers can be heard shouting.
In a second video, you can see the elephant, now without its finery — and more disturbingly without the child or mahout previously seen on its back — charging back through the same village.
About an hour later, the elephant was spotted again, this time standing calmly in a clearing surrounded by villagers.
Luckily, villagers in the videos said that there were no injuries during the great escape, which lasted almost nine hours.