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Horrific images of an emaciated elephant who is forced to entertain people despite her frail body have emerged.
70-year-old elephant Tikiiri is one of 60 elephants who is made to work for 10 consecutive nights at the Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka.
The photos from the Save Elephant Foundation in Chiang Mai reveal how Tikiiri’s gaunt body, with all her ribs on show, is carefully hidden under a garish costume.
“This is Tikiiri, a 70-year-old ailing female. She is one of the 60 elephants who must work in the service of the Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka this year,” Save Elephant Foundation founder Lek Chailert said.
“Tikiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for 10 consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke. She walks many kilometres every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony. 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. For a ceremony, all have the right to belief as long as that belief does not disturb or harm another. How can we call this a blessing, or something holy, if we make other lives to suffer?
“To love, to do no harm, to follow a path of kindness and compassion, this is the Way of Buddha. It is time to follow.”