Heartbreaking images have surfaced of this starving 70-year-old elephant made to endure a lifetime of performing in religious festivals.
Tikiiri, the ailing female elephant, along with 60 other elephants will be forced to work during the Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka this year. She will be covered in a colourful costume during the festival, so onlookers are not made aware of her emaciated condition.
The 10-day Buddhist festival sees the decorated animals walking among a host of performers including dancers, jugglers, fire-breathers and musicians.
Lek Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation shared these harrowing images on Monday August 12, which happened to be World Elephant Day.
Lek wrote on the foundations Facebook page:
Tikiiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for ten consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke.
She walks many kilometres every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony.
At the surface, Tikiiri appears fine to festival-goers, however her full-body robes hide the disturbing reality beneath.
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.
How can we call this [the festival] a blessing, or something holy, if we make other lives to suffer?
Understandably so, the images were met with a massive uproar and the post was inundated with comments from people horrified by the plight of these poor elephants.
Tikiiri was seen to by a vet after her situation became public and was declared to be ‘strong and ok to walk’, however that doesn’t appear to be the case. A new image has been shared of the elephant, clearly too tired to get up and walk let alone work in the festival.
Let’s hope this brave old girl is allowed to rest and recover and live the rest of her days work-free in a sanctuary.