Shocking images of an elephant so malnourished its ribs can be seen through its skin reveals the suffering that majestic animals are put through just to entertain humans, activists say.
Save Elephant Foundation posted photographs of 70-year-old Asian elephant Tikiiri, who is one of 60 working at the annual Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The images show Tikiiri without the elaborate and colourful costume she is draped with as she is paraded around during the Buddhist festival, which runs for 10 days each year and features dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers and decorated elephants.
"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," the foundation said in a Facebook post.
"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."
The post has sparked calls for the elephant to be rescued.
One member of the public wrote, "Someone who is in a position to give peace kindness and care to this beautiful elephant in her last remaining days please act quickly and responsibly."
Another said, "This is an outrage! No living creature should be subjected to this type of abuse, especially our intelligent and peaceful elephants! Someone please save Tikiri and let her live out the rest of her life in comfort and surrounded by kindness!"
The Metro reports that a spokesperson for the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple that hosts the festival, said they "always care about the animals".
They claim a vet had seen Tikiiri.
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