Tikiri the 70-year-old elephant was forced to parade at the annual Esala Perahera, a Buddhist festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka, enraging animal rights groups after finding out its emaciated body was hidden underneath a colorful costume, reports Joe Roberts of the U.K.’s highest-circulating newspaper Metro. Tikiri was one of the 60 elephants “that marched for days” to make tourists and locals feel “blessed.”
The elderly elephant was returned to its keeper in Rambukkana, a village close to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Sadly, the march took a toll on Tikiri’s health. According to its keeper, the elephant “died this afternoon. A vet from the hospital is coming tomorrow to investigate and do a post-mortem.” A source says that Tikiri spent her life as a slave. “We have been fighting for her and there was hope, but now this,” they add.
|Photo Credit: Lek Chailert/Save Elephant Foundation (via The Sun)|
She mentions that the bond between the keeper and the elephant is clear and “vigorously defended.” If one loves animals, then the individual must open their eyes, mind, and heart to their suffering. A spokesperson for the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that organizes the Esala Perahera, claims Tikiri suffered from a “digestive ailment” that prevented her from gaining weight.
Earlier this month, founder of Save Elephant Foundation in northern Thailand Lek Chailert shared photos of the emaciated elephant after she was returned to her owner. Chailert inquired why Takiri’s legs “were still being chained together.” “She is sick. She is old. She is weak. Why is she still tied both legs front and back? Surely she deserves better. Is it fear of her from a lifetime of abuse,” she wrote. Chailert wondered why there was no “emotional reciprocity” considering people spent a lifetime with Takiri.
|Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images (via The Independent)|
A temple spokesperson explains that Tikiri’s owner “specifically requested” her part in the festival, as it can cure weak animals. “It is an ancient belief that the performing of Pooja (Offerings) to gods by sick or weak elephants has healing powers.” Hence, Tikiri was permitted to perform, as she was proven fit “after a thorough examination.”