Horror pics show abused elephant shackled and forced to take part in religious festival

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The old and fragile elephant is reportedly being “tortured” by her owners, as pictures were released showing her skin hanging off her bones.

Tikiri, 70, is chained up every night while she takes part in a parade at the Perahera Festival, one of the oldest and most lavish Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka.

It features fire-breathers, dancers, and elephants like Tikiri in brightly-coloured costumes.

Thai charity Save Elephant Foundation shared horrifying photos of a starving Tikiri, with every rib in her body visible, and raw-looking skin on her trunk.

Sharing the pictures on Facebook, it wrote: “This is Tikiri, a 70-year-old ailing female.

Sri Lanka elephant cruelty

SICKENING: Tikiri the elephant is seen looking emaciated and fragile (Pic: SAVE ELEPHANT FOUNDATION)

Elephant takes part in Perahera festival Sri Lanka

DISGUISE: Normally, Tikiri’s emaciated frame is hidden by her colourful costume (Pic: SAVE ELEPHANT FOUNDATION)

Sri Lanka elephant cruelty

HORRIFIC: But pictures show her with every rib visible and raw skin on her trunk (Pic: SAVE ELEPHANT FOUNDATION)

“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.

“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.”

“No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition, because of her costume”

Save Elephant Foundation

The post goes on to bemoan the animal cruelty at an event that is supposed to be about doing no harm.

August 12 saw the celebrating of World Elephant Day.

The foundation runs a sanctuary for rescued elephants and has saved hundreds of the creatures from Thailand and other countries.

Save Elephant Foundation founder Lek Chailert said Tikiri is believed to work at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy city and is in constant service for the temple ceremony.

Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka

SPIRITUAL: The elephant is believed to be owned by the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka (Pic: GETTY)

Perahera Festival, Sri Lanka

COLOURFUL: Perahera Festival is one of the grandest Buddhist events in the world (Pic: GETTY)

Perahera Festival, Kandy, Sri Lanka

CELEBRATION: Events in Kandy are some of the largest in the Buddhist world (Pic: GETTY)

The charity has urged people to write to Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and “end this cruelty”.

But a spokesman for the temple said they “always care about the animals,” and claimed Tikiri had been seen by an elephant doctor.

Elephants are at risk around the world thanks to the destruction of habitats, climate change and poachers.

The African elephant population has fallen by more than half in the past 40 years, with fewer than 350,000 savannah elephants and 100,000 forest elephants remaining.

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