Last August I read an Associated Press story out of Bangkok with this actual headline: “Thai Police Seize 14 Elephants With Fake IDs.”
Smugglers, it turns out, use falsified papers to sneak elephants into Thailand from Myanmar. As reports have shown, it’s pathetically easy to do.
You present yourself at the border with an elephant. A sharp-eyed border guard says “Hey, bozo. It’s illegal to bring an elephant into our country.”
You say “That’s no elephant. It’s an aardvark with a serious hormone imbalance. We’re returning from an appointment in Myanmar with a specialist on the road to Mandalay.”
The guard demands to see some ID. The elephant hands over a falsified Thai identity card plus a fake library card from the Bangkok Public Library. They identify him as an aardvark named Krako Calrissian.
The guard types some numbers into his black market Kindle Fire knockoff. He then walks suspiciously around the elephant, idly slapping the ID card against his device.
He runs a wand with a mirror under Krako’s man zone. The guard’s eyebrows shoot up (as do those on Krako).
The guard’s Kindle burps. “Hmm,” he says, “You have an overdue library book. ‘The Gluten Free Aardvark Diet.’”
“Sorry,” says Krako.”I’ve been sick.”
Reluctantly, the guard returns the ID cards and waves them through with a “Have a sweltering day.” But he whispers ominously to Krako “Don’t eat any wooden ants.”
So, exactly how do police go about seizing 14 elephants at once? The Thai SWAT manual is very precise.
First, a chunky undercover officer disguises himself as an elephant. He walks nonchalantly into the elephant hideout, swinging his trunk to and fro. He quickly establishes his alpha-elephant creds by depositing a steaming load of “elephant guacamole.” (He buys this ahead of time on eBay).
The other elephants start whispering. They say if it looks like an elephant and stinks like an elephant, it must be an elephant. (Gives one an insight into the level of intelligence of your average elephant, doesn’t it?)
The undercover elephant, or underphant, arranges for the SWAT team to rush in when he first greets the elephants. In the US, an underphant, cool and insouciant, might say “What up dog?” In Thailand he remains insouciant but says “What up thongdaeng?” This is a Thai word for dog and, coincidentally, dinner.
Seizing an elephant requires 23 cops per pachyderm: three on each leg, two on the tail, two on the trunk, six to lug the huge box of handcuffs, and one to sweep up the guacamole.
Seizing 14 elephants requires 322 SWATers in 80 police cars and one tractor-trailer. By the way these cops have been trained on a remote mountain top in the ancient art of elephant flipping–not to be confused with flipping off an elephant–by the Monks Without Hair or Shoes or Pants Organization (MWHOSOPO.)
In America, raiding police might yell “Freeze!” In Thailand, the concept of freezing is unknown, so Thai police have experimented with alternate commands.
In a recording of one such raid, the lead officer is heard to shout “Thai police! Sweat! What? No, I said Thai police, not Thai takeout. You there, the guy with the big ears, I’m talking to you Dumbo.”
Reports say that the newly revised procedure calls for the lead officer to now shout “Drop your trunks!” Of course, this only works when seizing elephants or pirates carrying treasure chests.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.