70-year-old skeletal elephant pulled out of Sri Lanka parade

/ 09:21 PM August 15, 2019
skeletal elephant

Animal lovers criticized authorities for forcing Tikiri to parade several miles at the hugely popular night festival. Image: STR via AFP

A skeletal 70-year-old elephant has been withdrawn from a high-profile annual Buddhist pageant in Sri Lanka following a social media firestorm against parading the feeble animal.

The chief custodian of the Temple of the Tooth, which organized the event, Pradeep Nilanga Dela said Tikiri was not part of the grand finale last Wednesday, Aug. 14, involving dozens of jumbos.


Dela said the elephant’s “medical condition” meant her owners told him she would not be part of Kandy city’s parade and told AFP by telephone, “Tikiri is being treated.”

Animal lovers lambasted the authorities for forcing the aged animal to parade several kilometers wearing elaborate clothing at the hugely popular night festival.


Asian elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene described the animal’s treatment as inhumane.

“Obviously the animal is severely undernourished, it is close to death,” Jayewardene told AFP.

“Owners parade their elephants to gain merit for themselves and not for the animal. This should never have been allowed,” he said, adding he was relieved she would not be paraded.

Lek Chailert, the founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, said on social media that spectators do not realize how weak Tikiri was because she was covered in an elaborate costume.

“No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition because of her costume,” Chailert said. “No one sees the tears in her eyes, injured by the bright lights that decorate her mask, no one sees her difficulty to step as her legs are short shackled while she walks.”

The Temple of the Tooth, Buddhism’s holiest shrine on the island, holds the annual festival with traditional drummers and dancers as well as nearly 100 tamed elephants.

Many rich Sri Lankans keep elephants as pets, but there have been numerous complaints of ill-treatment and cruelty. HM/JB



Gulls could pass on drug-resistant bacteria to humans, scientists say

Birds just wanna have fun: Like humans, cockatoos love to dance

TOPICS: animal cruelty, Buddhism, elephants, festival, Sri Lanka
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.