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Friendly Elephant Accidentally Crushes Visitor's Car in National Park

Although Thailand has modernized swiftly in recent decades, there are still pockets of lush, thick jungles in the Southeast Asian country teeming with wildlife. This includes Khao Yai, a popular national park approximately two hours outside of Bangkok, where Asian elephants freely roam in packs -- regardless of the human visitors driving through or hiking. Sometimes, the elephants even step out on the road to greet visitors.

That's what happened late last month when a wild bull elephant, known to park officials as Duea, decided to say his hellos to a car trying to pass through the park. The 35-year-old elephant inched close to the vehicle before promptly lowering his legs on it, almost as if he was trying to scratch his belly. Aptly enough, Duea translates to naughty. 

"Why aren't they backing away? Are they foreigners?" the woman recording the video can be heard saying. Other passengers in the car begin shouting "leave!" though it's unclear if they're speaking to the vehicle or the elephant.

After several moments of the close encounter, the car pulls away with visible dents in its body and a shattered back window. Those recording the video ask if everyone inside is safe, and thankfully, it seems they's fine after peeling away from Duea.

It's not the first time encounters like this have happened in Thailand. The wild elephants in Khao Yai make frequent visits to the main road and even a parking lot that leads to the national park. 

Following this confrontation, the national park's Facebook page shared a photo of Duea and tips on avoiding a fender bender with a wild elephant. Tips include stopping cars at least 30 meters away from elephants, leaving the engine running to ensure one can swiftly drive away, and not stopping to photograph curious elephants. 

Due to his cheeky name, it's apparent that this isn't the first time Duea has wreaked some sort of havoc in Khao Yai. Just remember that at the end of the day, these are the elephants' homes that humans have impeded on. So what's a couple of dents in a car compared to a thriving wild elephant herd?

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Kat Thompson is a staff writer at Thrillist and has been lucky enough to see wild elephants on hikes in Thailand. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn