Elephant whose emaciated appearance sparked international outrage has died, charity says

THAILAND — An elephant from Sri Lanka whose skeletal appearance led to a global outcry has died, the animal rights charity that exposed its condition says.

Images of the emaciated elephant were shared in August by the Thai-based Save Elephant Foundation (SEF) to raise awareness of the exploitation of elephants in captivity.

Tikiri, a 70-year-old female, was used in a parade for 10 days each year — amid noise, fireworks and smoke — at the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, central Sri Lanka.

Animal rights campaigners have called on tourists in Sri Lanka to boycott elephant attractions after photographs of a malnourished female used in a festival were circulated online.

After the outrage sparked by her appearance, the festival organizers decided to withdraw her from this year’s closing parade.

Earlier this month, SEF said in a Facebook post that Tikiri had been returned to her owner.

Lek Chailert, the founder of SEF, posted the news of Tikiri’s death on Facebook on Tuesday evening. She told CNN that she learned of the death from contacts in Sri Lanka.

She wrote: “Tikiri’s suffering has ended, her soul is now free. No more harm can come to her.”

“RIP dear Tikiri. Never look back to this world so cruel toward you and your friends.”

Back in August, Elisa Allen, director of animal welfare charity PETA, told CNN in a statement: “Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can help elephants by refusing to ride them and by avoiding any attraction that offers or endorses elephant rides, keeps the animals chained, or forces them to perform.”

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