Elephants dressed as Santa Claus gave out presents and candy to pupils in Thailand yesterday in an annual Christmas tradition in the mostly Buddhist country. The Christmas celebration at Jirasartwitthaya School in Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, has run for 15 years. This year, four elephants and their mahouts, also wearing Santa hats, visited the school and gave away presents to the pupils, said Ms Lardthongtare Meepan, owner of the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace, an elephant camp. The elephants danced and showed off tricks to the pupils. The elephant is Thailand's national animal and appears in its history and literature. Thailand is 98 per cent Buddhist, but celebrates Christmas as part of the year-end holiday season.