Another heart-breaking photo of Tikiiri, a 70-year-old female elephant in Sri Lanka, has emerged, showing the animal even closer to death.
The photo shows Tikiiri looking dangerously emaciated, lying on the floor as a group of people stand around seemingly unable to help.
It was recently reported the 70-year-old animal is forced to work alongside 60 other elephants at the Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka, where her frail body and ailing health is hidden by fancy dress costumes.
The worrying photos of Tikiiri were first shared by the Save Elephant Foundation, who said: ‘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.’
Posting a more recent update about her, the foundation wrote:
Please pray for her. It is too tiring for her to walk and work. On the day we met her the vet said she is strong and Ok to walk??? Some people are blind in their hearts, and care less to others. Look at this poor old girl who has fallen down and the whole world can see her. We can not just let it go silent. Time to stand up and take action to protect the others who still suffer and are waiting for our voice.
The 10-day Buddhist festival sees dancers, jugglers, fire-breathers and musicians perform alongside the parade of decorated animals such as Tikiiri.
The foundation said the elephant ‘joins in the parade early every evening until late at night, every night for ten consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke.’ Tikiiri is forced to walk ‘many kilometres’ every night so ‘people will feel blessed during the ceremony’. However, they do not see the elephant’s weakened, malnourished and skeletal body underneath the costume.
According to the foundation, the poor, starving elephant works for the ‘Tooth Temple in Kandy City’ and the organisation is pleading with people to ‘write to Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to end this cruelty.’
After the first pictures of Tikiiri were shared, a spokesperson for the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that hosts the festival, told Metro they ‘always care about the animals’, and said Tikiiri had been seen by an elephant doctor.
The Save Elephant Foundation is calling for an end to the use of animals in ceremonies such as this.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.