How exhaustion and weakness of elephants are hidden under festival costumes

Photos posted on Facebook on August 13 showing an emaciated 70-year-old elephant named Tikiri sparked a massive outcry that resulted in modest progress for her.

Tikiri’s body was hidden under a colorful costume so that people watching the processions would not see her shocking thinness. After a backlash from the public, her owner removed her from the Esala Perahera, a 10-day parade festival in the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka, and sent her to be rehabilitated. 

In May, disturbing footage appeared online showing a baby elephant collapsed from exhaustion on an attraction in Thailand. Video footage reportedly taken by a tourist shows a baby elephant being tied to her mother with a chain connected to a rope around her neck while she was forced to carry the tourists. One spectator wept as the baby elephant fell to the ground. According to the Daily Mirror newspaper, on the day of the incident, the temperature in the area rose above 37 degrees.

In April, the public saw footage showing a malnourished baby elephant being forced to perform tricks at a zoo in Phuket, Thailand. At the zoo, a young elephant was forced to kick a soccer ball, spin hoops, balance on catwalks, and perform other humiliating, unsafe stunts, often carrying a trainer on its back. On April 13, shortly after the recording was made, the elephant’s hind legs broke while doing another trick. He reportedly had broken legs for three days before being taken to the hospital. During treatment, it was discovered that he “had an infection that resulted in persistent diarrhea, which caused other health complications, including the fact that his body was not absorbing nutrients as it should be, making him very weak” . He died a week later, on April 20.

Drona, a 37-year-old elephant forced to participate in religious parades, died on April 26 in a camp in Karnataka (India). This moment was captured on video. The footage shows Drone having chains wrapped around his ankles below. Camp staff, who claim to have called the veterinarian immediately, poured water over him using small buckets. But the 4-ton animal fell on its side and died.

In April, two elephant keepers fell asleep during a festival in Kerala, India, after drinking alcohol and forgot to feed a captive elephant. Rayasekharan, an elephant forced to take part in the festival, broke loose, attacking one caretaker, who was then hospitalized with serious injuries, and killed the second. The horrific incident was captured on video. “We suspect these attacks were a manifestation of his anger caused by the famine,” a spokesman for the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said.

A video posted to Twitter at the end of March showed an elephant being abused by caretakers in the state of Kerala, India. The footage shows several caretakers using long sticks to beat the elephant, which becomes so emaciated and injured that it falls to the ground. They keep hitting the elephant, kicking it even when it hits its head on the ground. Blow after blow followed even after the animal was already lying motionless on the ground. 

These are just some of the sensational stories over the past six months. But this happens every day with many elephants forced to be part of this industry. The most important thing you can do is never support this business. 

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