Sri Lankan elephant Tikiri forced to perform in parades dies

Saturday, 28 September 2019 00:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


BBC: A 70-year-old elephant in Sri Lanka, whose emaciated state sparked a backlash earlier this year, has died, an animal rights charity said.

Tikiri was among 60 elephants who were forced to march at the Perahera festival in Kandy every year.

In August, the Save Elephant Foundation (SEF) posted photos of her, highlighting her mistreatment.

Sri Lanka’s tourism minister later confirmed to the BBC that she would be pulled from performing.

She was eventually returned to her keeper, according to media reports.

But Lek Chailert, founder of SEF, posted late on Tuesday that Tikiri had passed away.

“Tikiri’s suffering has ended, her soul is now free. No more harm can come to her,” said Chailert in an Instagram post.

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

The SEF had in August posted pictures of Tikiri, showing her performing at the Perahera festival with her frail body covered by a colourful costume. However, a spokesman from the Buddhist temple that organises the festival had told news site Metro that Tikiri suffered from a “digestive ailment” that prevented her from putting on weight.

The Sacred Tooth Relic spokesman said this ailment had not “affected her strength and abilities”.

The pictures triggered a backlash and Tikiri was given medical attention, but according to the SEF, her condition largely “remained the same”.

“Tikiri was taken away and remains isolated,” the foundation had posted earlier in September. “Sadly her future remains somewhat bleak.”

Animal rights group PETA had earlier told the BBC that many elephants in Sri Lanka were suffering “similar or worse treatment in service to an exploitative and abusive tourism industry”. The animal rights group called for stronger enforcement of animal-protection laws and for tourists to avoid places that offered elephant rides or performances.