BEIJING – Already famous at home, China’s wandering elephants are now becoming international stars.
Major global media are chronicling the herd's more than yearlong, 500-kilometer (300-mile) trek from their home in a wildlife reserve in mountainous southwest Yunnan province to the outskirts of the provincial capital of Kunming.
Twitter and YouTube are full of clips of their various antics, particularly those of two calves who slipped into an irrigation ditch and had to be helped out by older members of the group.
“We should be more like the elephant and be more family oriented, take family vacations and help and care for and protect each other,” read one comment on YouTube signed MrDeterministicchaos.
The elephants have been trending for days on China's Weibo microblogging service with photos of the group sleeping attracting 25,000 posts and 200 million views Monday night.
The 15-member herd has been caught at night trotting down urban streets by security cameras, filmed constantly from the air by more than a dozen drones and followed by those seeking to minimize damage and keep both pachyderms and people out of harm’s way.
They've raided farms for food and water, visited a car dealership and even showed up at a retirement home, where they poked their trunks into some of the rooms, prompting one elderly man to hide under his bed.
While no animals or people have been hurt, reports put damage to crops at more than $1 million.