Skeletal 70 Year Old Elephant Paraded Around At Sri Lankan Festival
The 70-year-old creature, whose name is Tikiri, was reportedly forced to walk miles for ten consecutive nights as part of a holy ritual, so that locals could be 'blessed'.
Pictures show the ailing animal dressed in a bright purple embellished robe as a man rides on her back. But while the costume hides the elephant's frail state, underneath she was horrifyingly emaciated.
Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation, claims that Tikiri is one of around 60 shackled elephants used in the Kandy based Buddhist festival, named Esala Perahera.
She said: "Tikiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for 10 consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke.
"She walks many kilometers 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."
In a post to honour World Elephant Day, Lek added that while she did not want to interfere with anybody celebrating their faith, it shouldn't come above the welfare of the animals involved.
"For a ceremony, all have the right to belief as long as that belief does not disturb or harm another," she went on. "How can we call this a blessing, or something holy, if we make other lives to suffer?"
"Today is World Elephant Day. We cannot bring a peaceful world to the elephant if we still think that this image is acceptable."
Ms Chailert added: "To love, to do no harm, to follow a path of kindness and compassion, this is the Way of Buddha. It is time to follow."
Pretty 52 have contacted Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that hosts the festival, for a comment.
Speaking to Metro, the temple said that they "always care about the animals" and added that Tikiri had been seen by an elephant doctor.
Featured Image Credit: Save Elephant Foundation/Lek Chailert