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BANGKOK, THAILAND, Dec 2, 2001: Khun Phra, Thailand's esteemed royal white elephant, is in the pink of health and that spells good news for a nation worried about its shaky economy. Thailand considers white elephants to be highly auspicious and deserving of the greatest care. The country has 11 white elephants chosen on the basis of distinct markings by a team of experts skilled in the mysterious and Byzantine art of white-elephant classification. Just how one spots a white elephant is laid down in the Khochalak, an ancient text that originated in India but was translated into Thai centuries ago. Khun Phra is deemed to be the "whitest" of the white elephants, which are apparently more shades of pink than white. He has four mahouts and is under 24-hour watch. Khun Phra's veterinarian, ML Phiphatanachatr Diskul, said classifying white elephants was left to three experts, of whom he is one, and several families with generations of experience. The discovery of white elephants is considered a symbolic indication of the greatness and majesty of the king. Head shape, personality, the way the elephant sleeps, snores and walks and the way the eyes glance must all be quietly observed from a distance.