Famished-Looking 70-Year-Old Elephant's Bony Body Is Hidden By Festival Costume

Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka puts on quite the show every year, with more than 60 elephants featured in the parade. The Buddhist festival includes an array of performers, such as musicians, fire breathers, jugglers, and dancers. Lasting for 10 days, this festival is meant to bless the participants and viewers and is considered a holy celebration. But what lies beneath the beautiful costumes adorning these magnificent elephants?

Save Elephant Foundation revealed horrifying photos of Tikiiri, the 70-year-old starving elephant, who is forced to parade in the 10-day festival with shackles on her feet. These photos were shared in honor of World Elephant Day on Monday.


The elephant whose name is Tikiiri walks several kilometers a night during the festival, amidst the fireworks, smoke, and noise of the celebration. Her costume hides the hideous truth from festival-goers, who gaze in awe at her dazzling costume. The foundation said on facebook: 

"She is one of the 60 elephants who must work in the service of the Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka this year. Tikiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for ten consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke."

"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," the foundation continued.

Many heartbroken people wrote kind words in response to the publication of Tikiiri’s photos. "To have this beautiful creature treated and used in such a despicable way shows that humans really do think they are the superior race... This has got to stop and I for one will write to the Sri Lankan government," one person wrote on the picture. Save Elephant Foundation, founded by Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, is a non-profit organization that looks out for the well-being of elephants. 


"It is our mission to save the Asian elephant from extinction and give domesticated elephants a life worth living by preserving habitat and increasing public awareness on humane treatment practices," Save Elephant Foundation says.

iStock.com/Daniil Dubov

The foundation runs many projects to help these animals, including Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. According to World Animal Protection as cited by The Guardian approximately 3,000 elephants are in captivity for entertainment purposes throughout Asia, with 77 percent of those being treated inhumanely.

How many of us really know what goes on behind the scenes? If this story was touching to you, pass it on to a friend to help raise awareness and stop animal cruelty throughout Asia and the world.