Skeletal elephant forced to perform in Sri Lankan parade

Harrowing photos have emerged of an emaciated 70-year-old elephant forced to march in a Sri Lankan street parade.

The female elephant, who is called Tikiri, is covered in a colourful costume featuring bright lights so spectators do not see her gaunt body.

Tikiri is one of 60 elephants who work every night for 10 days as part of the Esala Perahera Festival that takes place in kandy each July, according to the Save Elephant Foundation.

Lek Chailert, the founder of the charity, said the elephants are “short-shackled” so they walk more slowly amid the chaos of the night parade.

“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,” Ms Chailert wrote on Facebook.

“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?”

Save Elephant Foundation shared the photos of Tikiri on Monday to mark World Elephant Day.

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