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XV International AIDS ConferencePhoto Journal by Bonnie Goldman


Elephants are revered by the Thai people. Though they are an endangered species, there are still 2,000 wild elephants in Thailand. Twenty elephants were brought to the conference from the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace in northern Thailand. They performed in an elaborate show that took place before AIDS 2004's opening ceremony.

Once the conference was underway, every now and again the elephants were dressed up and paraded through the grounds. At other times, the elephants could be found in a parking lot adjacent to the large conference center complex, where free rides were offered to delegates. Posters pinned up throughout the area described the plight of elephants in Thailand.

Many of the elephants were painted with the motto of this conference, "Access for All," on one side, and an anti-AIDS symbol on the other.   A conference delegate gets a ride on an elephant. Riding on an elephant is a lot like riding ... more