Hundreds of Thai students, members of the navy and celebrities, helped released 1066 turtles in celebration of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday today.
The sea turtles, which are seen as a symbol of long life ran, to freedom outside the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre.
The number 1066 was chosen for a particular reason. The number 10 symbolises King Rama X, for which King Maha is known. The number 66 is one more than his age and was chosen to wish the King longevity.
Thai Buddhists believe that releasing captive animals helps gain good karma which will assist them in their next life.
All of the turtles were hatched from eggs collected by the navy from a nearby island. The Conversation Centre helps raise them before releasing them. Some of them were as young as a week old.
The turtles released are considered to be endangered. The Sea Turtle Conversation Centre hopes to preserve the habitats of sea turtles as well as other threatened aquatic animals.
An officer who helps run the Navy’s turtle conversation programme said that: “Sea turtles are long-living animals. If we release them, it will help His Majesty to have a long life too.”
Some attendees of the release waved white flags that bore the words “Long Live the King.”
The releasing of the turtles is just the start of King Vajiralongkorn’s birthday celebrations. Celebrations and ceremonies are planned throughout Buddhist temples throughout Thailand.
As well as that, an event for more than 600 Buddhist monks will take place in Bangkok where they will distribute food and money to poor people.
Royal birthdays are met with a flurry of fanfare and celebration in Thailand. The monarchy is seen as a pillar of the country and a symbol of moral authority.
Vajiralongkorn came to the throne following the death of his much-loved father, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The late King Bhumibol was revered throughout the country.