Emaciated Elderly Elephant Dies 1 Month After Parade Photos Go Viral

September 24, 2019 Updated: September 24, 2019

An emaciated elephant that went viral last month due to her poor health has died, said an Asia-based animal charity on Sept. 24.

The elephant, Tikiiri, was forced to work every night for ten days while wearing a costume, including a mask, according to the Daily Mail.

But in a Facebook post on Monday, the Save Elephant Foundation wrote that the pachyderm has died.

Sri Lankan elephant Tikiiri, 70, stands at the Temple of the Tooth in the central city of Kandy on Aug. 14, 2019. (LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

“The sad news is just out tonight that Tikiri passed away this evening. There is both sorrow and relief here. To think of her brings such pain to my heart,” the post said. “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 a 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.”

The operator of the page said that Tikiiri’s “suffering has ended, her soul is now free. No more harm can come to her.”

Last month, after the photos of Tikiiri went viral online, Jayantha Jayewardene, the operator of Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust in Sri Lanka, told AFP that he is concerned about the pachyderm’s health.

“Obviously, the animal is severely undernourished. It is close to death,” he told AFP. “This should never have been allowed.”

The organizers of the parade were blasted by users on social media after the photos were published on the Save Elephant Foundation Facebook page. Organizers later withdrew Tikiiri from the festival, according to reports.

A stock photo of an elephant (Illustration – Shutterstock)

Sri Lanka’s tourism and wildlife minister, John Amaratunga, later said on Aug. 16 that an investigation was launched into the matter, NDTV reported. He is asking how the apparently emaciated elephant was forced to partake in a lengthy parade.

“I have been informed that the elephant collapsed yesterday,” Amaratunga said in a statement. He added: “Considering what has transpired, I have ordered officials to initiate an inquiry and ascertain how and why an elephant in such poor health was used in the perehara (pageant) and to take necessary action against those responsible.”

The Save Elephant Foundation was founded by SangdeTaun Lek Chailert, who has advocated for elephant welfare in Asia.

“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 said, according to the Mail.