PETA India Appeals for Rehabilitation of Partially Blind Elephant Thechikottukavu Ramachandran

For Immediate Release:

10 May 2019


Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]

Garima Jain; [email protected]

Group Also Urges Authorities to Ban All Use of Elephants in Festivals in Light of the Overwhelming Cruelty They Endure

Thrissur – Today, following the High Court of Kerala decision to decline to allow the suffering, partially blind, elderly elephant Thechikottukavu Ramachandran to be paraded during Thrissur Pooram – in a case in which People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India filed an impleadment application – PETA India submitted an urgent representation to the Thrissur District Collector and Kerala Chief Wildlife Warden requesting that they offer the elephant relief by having him seized and sent to a sanctuary where he can finally spend the rest of his days free from chains. The group also urged the authorities to consider banning the use of elephants in all festivals in light of the overwhelming cruelty that they endure, as revealed by the Animal Welfare Board of India’s 2015 and 2016 inspections of Thrissur Pooram and by PETA India’s 2017 and 2018 investigations of the festival.

A copy of PETA India’s representation, the report on the group’s investigation into Thrissur Pooram 2018, investigation photos, and a video are available upon request.

“The enslavement that Thechikottukavu Ramachandran is made to endure for temple festivals is hell on Earth and utterly unacceptable for any living being,” says veterinarian and PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate. “Being able to roam, having control over their own lives, and enjoying mental stimulation is essential to elephants’ mental and physical health. When they’re held captive and beaten, they often express their frustration by snapping and harming or killing those around them. Thechikottukavu Ramachandran must be transferred to a sanctuary, not only to spare him further suffering but also to protect human lives.”

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – notes that the Thrissur District Captive Elephant Monitoring Committee decided in its meeting on 25 April 2019 to prohibit the parading of Thechikottukavu Ramachandran in festivals and ceremonies, and PETA India is urging authorities to go a step further by ensuring he is permanently retired. The minutes of the meeting explain that his health is not satisfactory and that parading him would threaten the safety of the public and the mahouts. As per the minutes, the representatives of the elephant owners, mahouts, and festival coordination committee refused to agree to the police and Forest Department’s suggestion that those who use him must be held responsible for any incidents that occur. The report of an expert committee dated 6 March 2019, based on which the Thrissur District Captive Elephant Monitoring Committee decided to prohibit the use of Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, explains that the elephant is completely blind in his right eye and, as a result, may easily be spooked by any movement on his right-hand side. The report further states that he appears to be 65 years old and therefore of retirement age, as per the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2012; is unable to digest food properly; and is overworked and not given sufficient opportunity to rest. According to news reports, he is so frustrated and upset that he has killed 13 humans and two other elephants to date.

PETA India’s latest investigation – conducted from 24 to 26 April 2018 – had the following findings:

  • Mahouts hit and poked elephants with sticks and assaulted them with metal ankuses.
  • Mahouts brazenly wielded metal ankuses, which are banned by order of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala and by order of the Honourable Rajasthan High Court.
  • Elephants forced to perform had very poor body condition scores, painful abscesses and swellings, open wounds, bruises, impaired vision, chipped and cracked nails, cracked soles of the feet, and other foot conditions.
  • Elephants were forced to perform despite being found unfit to do so during a medical examination at the fitness camp by a team from the Kerala Forests & Wildlife Department and Kerala State Animal Husbandry Department, which included veterinarians.
  • Elephants were tethered together by all four legs for hours.
  • They were forced to stand for hours in hot, humid weather, without adequate protection from the sun, and were denied sufficient drinking water.

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