Just a few weeks prior, it had been the closing ceremonies of a Sri Lanka festival, where elephants dressed up in splendid finery and marched through the streets ending in a celebration full of noise, fireworks and smoke. Tikiiri, an emaciated 70-year-old elephant forced to take part in pageants for years, died on Wednesday.
The government has ordered a necropsy for Tikiiri to determine the exact cause of her death. Elephant experts stated she was mistreated, neglected and abused. She was withdrawn from the annual celebration after Save Elephant Foundation posted the photo which quickly went viral and made headlines around the world, Tikiiri was finally withdrawn from marching for the closing ceremonies.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 asked the Sri Lankan Government to take immediate action for the obvious cruelty.
No one knew how emaciated and sick she was, as her colorful costume hid her body and the chains that bound her legs; she had been forced to work in the service of the Perahera Festival. Few tourists ever recognized the cruelty behind the elaborate elephants costumes and the celebration.
According to Metro News, her handlers said the elephant suffered from a digestive ailment, and her owner wanted her to participate in the festival in hopes of curing her.
“They said: ‘It is an ancient belief that the performing of Pooja (Offerings) to gods by sick or weak elephants has healing powers.'”
Tragically, Tikiiri lived her life shackled as she was forced to walk the streets in Kandy, a city in central Sri Lanka. Her advocates wished even for a few days of freedom for her; with love and care, but the look in her eyes – the fear and sorrow from such an intelligent animal, bears the pain for all humans who wanted to help.
“RIP dear Tikiiri. Never look back to this world so cruel toward you and your friends.”
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