The use of wild animals in global events such as circuses and festivals has strongly been debated over the last few years, and many countries have made it illegal to use wild animals in forceful situations that these events require.
The abuse and suffering that animals go through at the hands of the entertainment industry are truly heartbreaking, and it’s a harrowing fact that it still happens to this very day.
Recent footage of an elderly elephant in Sri Lanka that has now passed away has devasted millions around the world and has shown the harsh realities of the lives of animals used, forcefully, for performances and entertainment. Keep scrolling to learn of the late elephant’s story, and what needs to be done to protect our wildlife…
These types of entertainment include circuses, festivals, hunting, dog fighting, aquariums, zoos, and even fishing.
All of these practices go against animals’ will, which is what makes them much more controversial today.
Zoos that are considered to be wildlife enclosures for endangered species and organizations that are designed to protect animals are here for a good purpose and allow members of the public access to view, and enjoy seeing, these wild animals.
The use of animals in circuses, in which they are forced to perform tricks and wear human clothes, has been branded cruel and inhumane, and, ultimately, it has been made illegal in several parts of the world.
Circuses required animals to travel hundreds of miles every year in small and confined spaces, and as Animal Equality stated, people who visit an animal circus will learn nothing about an animal’s natural behavior, and, instead, will only see an animal stressed and anxious due to constant slavery.
Many circuses around the world have seen the impact that this has had on animals and have made the wise and kind decision to no longer involve animals in their practices.
Wild animals are unpredictable and will act according to their instincts.
It has been proven that these poor wild animals can snap at any moment due to the constant stress and confinement to which they are inflicted.
PETA reported an incident during the 2014 Moolah Shrine Circus show in Missouri, in which 3 elephants escaped from their handlers in the children’s rides area after becoming stressed from the circus noises.
They were loose for around forty-five-minutes and damaged multiple cars in the process – nobody was injured but things could have taken a much more deadly turn.
Festivals around the world have been known to use animals as part of parades and for entertainment value, and some are designed to celebrate animals themselves.
The Elephant Festival in India is celebrated every year in Jaipur, and it focuses solely on the Asian elephant and its contributions to Indian culture.
The people of India proudly decorate their elephants with colored paint and heavy jewelry, including garnishing their tusks with real gold bracelets and rings.
The elephants are required to march through a parade and to take part in games such as Elephant Polo and Tug-Of-War.
The Elephant Festival was canceled in the years 2012 and 2014 due to protests from animal activists.
The Kandy Esala Perahera festival in Sri Lanka is held in Kandy every year in July and August.
It translates to the “Festival of the Tooth,” and is held to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha. This festival is well known for its vibrant costume and its traditional use of elephants.
The Temple of the Tooth, Buddhism’s holiest shrine on the island, holds the annual festival with traditional drummers and dancers as well as nearly 100 tamed elephants.
And the majority of these majestic animals are treated with respect and are looked after efficiently and kindly.
From seeing the way in which wild animals were treated in circuses, it is clear that some animals that are tamed and are kept in sanctuaries and captivity will be abused and mistreated at the hands of sick and twisted individuals.
Save Elephant Foundation is a foundation that is dedicated to protecting Asian elephants all across the continent.
Alongside working tirelessly to preserve and protect these beautiful animals, they have also set up Elephant Nature Park which is a safe sanctuary for abused elephants in Thailand.
“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,” the foundation stated.
The foundation gives tourists and guests the opportunities to visit and meet the elephants that are under their care, which involves bathing, stroking, and feeding the animals.
This elephant was named Tiikiri and she was seventy-years-old.
She is seen here wearing the traditional robes that elephants are required to wear during the festival, so it’s hard to see the deteriorating condition that the poor animal is in.
This shocking image was shared by the foundation, in which they wrote: “Tikiiri 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,” they continued to write. “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 believe 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?” the foundation questioned on their Facebook page.
Speaking to Metro, Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation, said that Tikiiri is one of sixty elephants being forced to work for 10 consecutive nights at the festival, and she claimed that the animals are “short shackled” which forces them to walk slowly through the parade.
This heartbreaking image sees Tikiiri lying motionless on the ground, simply too exhausted to stand up.
“It is too tiring for her to walk and work. On the day we met her the vet said she is strong and Ok to walk ??” they wrote.
They went on to say: “Some people are blind in their hearts, and care less than others. Look at this poor old girl who has fallen down and the whole world can see her.”
The neglect and abuse that Tikiiri has endured are clearly very upsetting to witness for the staff of the foundation, as it is for everyone viewing the images.
The foundation posted on their Facebook page to announce the death of Tikiri.
“There is both sorrow and relief here. To think of her brings such pain to my heart,” they wrote in an emotional post.
“That hard service was her life, and not freedom, carries for me a commitment to others who yet suffer.”
“That we could not help her before her eyes would shut forever fosters a renewed courage, and bears responsibility for us to find safe refuges for all of the captive Giants born under the yoke of Man. What we wished for Tikiri, even a few days of freedom with love and care, we will demand for others,” they continued to say.
“The day that I met Tikiri, her eyes locked with mine, telling me all that I needed to know. Her own fear and anger and sorrow is now part of that longer memory of her kind which should bear us no affection.”
The foundation wants to put a stop to the use of animals, especially elephants, in ceremonies such as festivals and parades.
This isn’t the first time that they’ve stepped in to help neglected elephants who are subjected to working for the entertainment of us humans. This elephant is named Yai Boon and is also seventy-years-old. She was overworked and exhausted from being used to carry tourists repeatedly without breaks when she was taken in.
Hundreds of Asian elephants have been subjected to abuse and torture at the hands of their inhumane handlers who run businesses that allow tourists to ride on the backs of these elephants.
Save Elephant Foundation has taken in numerous elephants who have been inflicted with this abuse, and they are eager to put a stop to it completely.
Elephants such as Tikiiri and Yai Boon are sadly not the only ones who endure years of neglect and abuse at the hands of tourism and “tradition.”
Government officials all around Asia have urged tourists to not take part in riding elephants and encouraging these barbaric businesses, and this now goes for the traditional festivals that are celebrated all around the continent.
Animal-free events are equally as enjoyable and fun as those who include wild animals against their will, so it is super important for our wildlife to be kept safe and treated with respect.
To learn more about the treatment of Asian elephants in tourism, keep scrolling…