Thrissur Elephant Attacks Prompt PETA India to Call For Use of Mechanical Elephants for Rituals and Ceremonies

Posted on by Erika Goyal

After a recent serious incident in which frustrated elephant Guruvayur Ravikrishnan attacked elephant Puthuppally Arjunan and left devotees and a mahout with severe injuries, PETA India petitioned the Cochin Devaswom Board to urge all temples under its command to consider replacing the use of real elephants with mechanical elephants in rituals and processions, thereby protecting devotees and allowing live animals to be rehabilitated at sanctuaries where they can live unchained and recover from the mental trauma of being enslaved.

The video footage shows that Ravikrishnan became distressed by fire from a torch being held nearby. In the letter to the Cochin Devaswom Board, PETA India wrote, “Elephants, like humans, are naturally fearful of fire. Waving fire torches in close proximity to them can harm their skin, causing painful burns, and sparks can fly into their eyes. We understand that elephant Ravikrishnan, who was born in the wild, has a habit of throwing objects at visitors at the Punnathur Kotta of the Guruvayur Devaswom Board and has a history of foot problems, as observed in the 2014 report by the Animal Welfare Board of India.”

In the letter submitted to the president of the Cochin Devaswom Board, PETA India states that many elephants in captivity in the country, including in Kerala, are being held illegally or have been transported to a different state without permission. Because elephants are wild animals who would not willingly obey human commands, when used for ceremonies, rides, tricks, and other purposes, they are trained and controlled through violence, including beatings and the use of weapons. Many elephants in temples and other places where they are held in captivity have extremely painful foot ailments and leg wounds from being chained to concrete for hours on end, and most do not get adequate food, water, or veterinary care, let alone any semblance of a natural life. As a result, many elephants lash out, killing their mahout or others around them. According to figures compiled by the Heritage Animal Task Force, captive elephants killed 526 people in Kerala in a 15-year period.

PETA India has previously donated two life-size mechanical elephants: Irinjadappilly Raman to Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in Thrissur and Mahadevan to the Thrikkayil Mahadeva Temple in Kochi in recognition of both temples’ decisions to never to own or hire live elephants. Raman and Mahadevan are now used to conduct ceremonies at their temples in a safe and cruelty-free manner, helping real elephants stay with their families in the jungle.

We encourage all venues and events using elephants to switch to lifelike mechanical elephants or other means in place of real animals. Elephants already in captivity should be retired to sanctuaries where they can live unchained and in the company of other elephants, healing psychologically and physically from the trauma of years of isolation, captivity, and abuse.

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