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Starving elderly elephant's emaciated body is hidden by festival costume

This starving 70-year-old elephant is made to walk miles every night so people can feel ‘blessed’ at a religious festival, an activist has claimed.

The ailing female elephant, who is called Tikiri, is covered in a colourful costume so the people watching her in the parade do not see her emaciated body.

Lek Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation, said Tikiri is one of 60 elephants being forced to work for ten consecutive nights at the Esala Perahera, a Buddhist festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

She claims the elephants are ‘short shackled’ so they walk slower through the noisy chaos of the night parade.

Chailert, whose organisation rescues elephants in Thailand, said ‘no one sees the tears’ in Tikiri’s eyes in a heartfelt post on World Elephant Day.

She wrote: ‘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.

‘She walks many kilometers 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?

‘Today is World Elephant Day. We cannot bring a peaceful world to the elephant if we still think that this image is acceptable.

‘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.’

A spokesperson for the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that hosts the festival, told that they ‘always care about the animals’ and confirmed Tikiri had been seen by an elephant doctor.

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