Tikiri The Elephant Dies After Photos Of Her Skeletal Body Shocked The World

by : Emily Brown on : 26 Sep 2019 09:52
Tikiri The Elephant Dies After Photos Of Her Skeletal Body Shocked The WorldTikiri The Elephant Dies After Photos Of Her Skeletal Body Shocked The World Lek Chailert/Save Elephant Foundation

A 70-year-old elephant, Tikiri, has died just weeks after photos of her emaciated body highlighted her mistreatment and shocked the world. 


The starved animal made headlines last month when Save Elephant Foundation (SEF) shared images of her performing at the Esala Perahera festival in Sri Lanka, with her body hidden underneath a colourful costume.

SEF revealed her skeletal frame and pointed out how her owners had deceived onlookers as Tikiri was forced to march for miles, despite her fragile state.

Tikiri the elephant has died after being mistreatedTikiri the elephant has died after being mistreatedSave Elephant Foundation

The 70-year-old animal was also photographed after she collapsed to the ground from exhaustion, BBC News reports.


The eye-opening images were met with outrage by the public and Tikiri was reportedly sent back to her keeper in Rambukkana, a village close to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

Earlier this month, the SEF said Tikiri was ‘taken away and remains isolated’, adding that although she was given medical attention her condition and care largely ‘remained the same’.

Late on Tuesday (September 24), Lek Chailert, founder of SEF, announced Tikiri had died.

She shared a picture of the skinny elephant on Instagram, explaining how the animal’s death has further spurred her to help other suffering animals:

The sad news is just out tonight that Tikiri passed away this evening. There is both sorrow and relief here. To think of her brings such pain to my heart.

That hard service was her life, and not freedom, carries for me a commitment to others who yet suffer. That we could not help her before her eyes would shut forever fosters a renewed courage, and bears a responsibility for us to find safe refuges for all of the captive Giants born under the yoke of Man.

What we wished for Tikiri, even a few days of freedom with love and care, we will demand for others.

The post continues:


The day that I met Tikiri, her eyes locked with mine, telling me all that I needed to know. Her own fear and anger and sorrow is now part of that longer memory of her kind which should bear us no affection.

Tikiri’s suffering has ended, her soul is now free. No more harm can come to her.

RIP dear Tikiri. Never look back to this world so cruel toward you and your friends.

After images showing Tikiri’s suffering were shared online in August, a spokesman from the Buddhist temple which organises the festival reportedly told Metro the animal suffered from a ‘digestive ailment’ which prevented her from putting on weight.

They also claimed the ‘ailment’ had not ‘affected her strength and abilities’, however activists argued Tikiri was not given the appropriate food for an elephant of her age.

Tikiri was one of around 60 elephants forced to march for 10 days each year in the parade, amid noise, fireworks and smoke.

Elisa Allen, director of animal welfare charity PETA, spoke to CNN about how tourists can help stop elephants suffering, explaining:

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can help elephants by refusing to ride them and by avoiding any attraction that offers or endorses elephant rides, keeps the animals chained, or forces them to perform.

The animal rights group has also called for stronger enforcement of animal protection laws.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected] 

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Animals, Animal Rights, elephants, Perahera Festival, peta, Save Elephant Foundation, Tikiri


Lek Chailert/Instagram and 3 others
  1. Lek Chailert/Instagram


  2. BBC

    Sri Lankan elephant Tikiri forced to perform in parades dies

  3. CNN

    Elephant whose emaciated appearance sparked international outrage has died, charity says

  4. Metro

    Emaciated elderly elephant dies after ‘70 years a slave’