It’s quite well known by now that elephants suffer terribly in the tourism industry. Their spirits are broken through a process called ‘phajaan,’ and they are constantly threatened with bull hooks. It’s how the animals submit. A wild elephant would never submit to the exploitative tricks and behaviors they are forced to do when in captivity. Recently, the story of one particular elephant in Sri Lanka named Tiriki has gone viral when the photos showing her skeletal, undernourished body surfaced on the internet.

Tiriki is 70 years old and forced to perform in grueling festivals known as peraheras. She is forced to join the parade early every evening until late at night for ten consecutive night. At the parade, she is surrounded by noise, fireworks, and smoke. The sight of her clearly abused and malnourished body is heartbreaking, but tourists and spectators don’t notice how unhealthy and in need of medical attention Tiriki is because she is covered by a costume.

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The photos are absolutely devastating. It’s rare to see such a severely underweight elephant, even in captivity.

Since Save Elephant Foundation first shared Tikiri’s story not too long ago, she has since collapsed and is unable to walk. The photo of her emaciated body on the ground is harrowing. She cannot remain where she is. She was forced to work until her body completely gave out. This is not okay. 

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As Elisa Allen, director of PETA says, “Sri Lankan authorities must stop allowing such atrocious cruelty and send this poor elephant to a reputable sanctuary where she can be assessed by veterinarians and, if treatment is viable, live out her remaining years in peace.”

If you agree, sign this petition which asks that she receive immediate medical care. She should be able to live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary where she is well fed, well taken care of, no longer forced to work or perform, and allowed to live peacefully.

Stories like Tikiri’s are a reminder of how important it is to be careful which facilities or activities you pay for and participate in when on vacation. Captivity is no place for a wild animal and given how much they suffer, it’s unethical to support the exploitation of wild animals in the tourism industry.

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