When booking a holiday to Sri Lanka, many dream of spotting an elephant on safari.
What few expect is to open your room door in a plush hotel to see an elephant roaming the corridors.
However, at the Jetwing Yala hotel, in the south-east of the country, this is a fairly regular occurrence.
A video of Natta Kota – or short tail – wandering around the hotel while poking things with his trunk went viral over the weekend.
woke up to a text from my mom about how a wild elephant went into a Sri Lankan hotel and gently wandered around while poking stuff with his trunk pic.twitter.com/C2biQT8C30
— Upuli ðŸ‡±ðŸ‡° (@upidaisy) January 19, 2020
While many watched and shared the video in amazement, staff at the Jetwing hotel near the Yala National Park said the fully grown Asian bull elephant has been “the hotel’s most loyal patron” since 2013.
“In the initial years, Natta Kota was a seasonal visitor, appearing for a few months of the year before disappearing once more into the bush. During this period, he paid frequent visits to other resorts along the beach stretch as well,” a Jetwing spokesperson told the BBC.
“A few years ago, he took up permanent residence at Jetwing where he is allowed to be at peace. Natta Kota spends his days sleeping in the shade of the scrubs and taking walks along the hotel’s footpaths.”
Natta Kota is not always on his best behaviour. He has been known to steal fruit from cars and food supplies from the kitchen.
But rather than punish him, hotel staff let Natta Kota off for his “mischievous moments” but warn visitors to keep an eye on their fruit and vegetables. An electric fence in front of the kitchen door now keeps him away from the hotel’s stores.
“Natta Kota’s calm demeanour has made him a delight to guests and videos of him helping himself to the hotel’s trees are aplenty,” Jetwing said.