70-Year-Old Emaciated Elephant That Was Forced To Parade Streets During Festival Has Died

Lek Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation (SEF), confirmed in an Instagram post that an emaciated 70-year-old elephant that was forced to parade the streets of Sri Lanka has died.

Tikiri was one of the 60 elephants forced to march as part of the annual Esala Perahera festival held by a Buddhist Temple in Kandy, so tourists and locals can feel ‘blessed’.


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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 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. หลังจากที่ล้มครั้งแล้วครั้งเล่า มาตอนเย็นนี้ทิคคิรีก็ได้จากโลกนี้ไปอย่างทุกข์ทรมาน เธอไม่มีโอกาสที่จะได้เห็นอิสรภาพก่อนเธอตาย เธอไม่เคยได้สัมผัสความรักจากมนุษย์ก่อนที่ดวงตาคู่นั้นของเธอจะปิดสนิท วันที่ดิฉันได้พบกับทิคคิรีที่ศรีลังกา และตัดสินใจนำเรื่องของเธอสู่สายตาชาวโลก ดวงตาคู่นั้นของเธอมันบอกทุกอย่างในความรู้สึกที่เธอมี ดิฉันรู้สึกสัมผัสถึงความกลัว โกรธ ความเจ็บปวด และความหมดหวังของเธอ หลับให้สบายนะทิคคิรีวันนี้เป็นอิสระแล้ว ไม่ต้องเป็นทาสใครอีกต่อไป มองไปข้างหน้าอย่าหันหลังกลับมามอง โลกนี้ที่มีแต่การทารุนกรรม เกิดมาอีกทีอย่าเกิดมาเป็นช้างให้คนทารุนกรรมอีก #saveelephantfoundation #bekindtoanimals #bekindtoelephants #elephant

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Chailert, when confirming her death, wrote that the news brought both, sorrow and relief. Her suffering has ended and her soul is free.

She added:

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

Earlier, there was a widespread backlash after Save Elephant Foundation (SEF) released images of Tikiri’s heavily emaciated body. Her owners used a parade costume to cover her weak body, but the starved and fragile animal was also photographed on the floor after collapsing from the torture she was subjected to.

Chailert then posted the photos of the tortured elephant, explaining that she was old and weak, but she is she still tied both legs front and back. She also added that she joined in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for 10 consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke.

The poor elephant walked multiple kilometers every night, but due to her costume, no one is aware of her weakened condition and her bony body.

Animal rights groups across the globe were outraged after finding out that Tikiri’s malnourished and emaciated body was hidden beneath a colorful costume during the parades.

Chailert questioned the intention of the religious belief and festival, reminding people that we cannot call a ceremony the event that brings such harm and sufferings, and there is nothing holy in the sorrow and tears in the eyes of the poor animal.


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Tikiri situation. 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. Time to END to use animal in every ceremony. ทิกกิรี ช้างศรีลังกาล้มแล้วค่ะ ไหนล่ะสัตวแพทย์ที่ยืนเถียงพวกเราคำตกฟากในวันก่อน ว่าช้างสุขภาพสมบูรณ์ . คนบางคนตาไม่บอดแต่ใจบอดมากกว่า ไม่เห็นคุณค่าแะความรู้สึกของผู้อื่น พุทธศาสนิกชนทั้งหลาย หัวใจของศาสนาเราคืออะไร ? เมตตาใช่ไหม จงมาช่วยกันทำให้ศาสนาพุทธคงอยู่โดยไม่ให้ใครเอาสิ่งที่ไม่ถูกต้องเหล่านี้มาบิดเบือนต่อคำสอน โลกเราจะอยู่อย่างสันติถ้าเราใส่ใจและแคร์ต่อผู้อื่น #bekindtoanimals #bekindtoelephants #saveelephantfoundation #stopanimalabuse #elephant

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The temple defended the use of Tikiri as part of the procession for the Esala Perahera festival.

A spokesperson for the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that organizes the festival, reported that the elephant’s owner had ‘specifically requested’ for her to be included in the procession, as according to ancient beliefs, performing Pooja (worship) to gods by sick or weak elephants has healing powers.

The spokesperson claimed Tikiri had suffered from a ‘digestive ailment’ which allegedly prevented her from putting on weight.

Therefore, the owner specially requested the Diyawadana Nilame of the Vishnu Devala (temple chief) to allow her to participate in this year’s procession in the hope of curing her.

The spokesperson added that the request was accepted in terms that she is proved to be fit to take the streets after a thorough examination.

Yet, the photos shared by Save Elephant Foundation led to brutal criticism, so Tikiri was returned to her keeper in Rambukkana, a village close to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

However, the ordeal had taken too much of a toll on her health.

Her death broke the hearts of many, and numerous people expressed their sadness due to the tragic ending of the poor animal.

In her latest post announcing Tikiri’s death, Ms. Chailert, who works to help rescue and care for captive elephants across Asia, described her regret she was unable to help the mammal, but promised that her death would not be in vain:

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