It was to be the closing ceremonies of a Sri Lanka festival on Thursday, where elephants are dressed up in splendid finery and marched through the streets ending in a celebration full of noise, fireworks and smoke. Few tourists ever recognized the cruelty behind the costumes and local revelry.
According to the Save Elephant Foundation, who posted the disturbing photo of a 70-year-old female elephant named Tikiiri, no one knew how emaciated and sick she was as her colorful costume hid her body; and for the last ten days she had been forced to work in the service of the Perahera Festival.
After Save Elephant Foundation posted the photo which quickly went viral and made headlines around the world, Tikiiri was finally withdrawn from marching for the closing ceremonies. The animal advocacy organization has asked the Sri Lankan Government to take immediate action for the obvious cruelty.
“She walks many kilometre every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony…No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition because of her costume. 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 foundation wrote on their Facebook page.
The chief custodian of the Temple of the Tooth, that organizes the festival, stated the elephant was being treated and had hoped she would be able to march in the closing ceremonies, however animal advocates petitioned authorities to “end the barbaric torture and abuse” with a petition garnering more than 8,000 signatures.
Notice in the photo below, all of the elephants are chained as they are bathed in preparation for the parades.
Although the elephant had been saved from marching in the parade and officials state “she is being treated,” there have not been any further updates.
The Save Elephant Foundation is based in Thailand and is now a refuge to more than 35 elephants rescued from tourists attractions and illegal logging businesses. It is also a rescue and sanctuary for 350 dogs rescued from the Bangkok floods and from the streets.
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