The Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in Thrissur, Kerala, made history on Sunday, February 26, by dedicating a life-like mechanical elephant named “Irinjadappilly Raman” to perform daily rituals at the temple, replacing the use of actual elephants. The initiative, led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and supported by award-winning actor Parvathy Thiruvothu, aims to support the rehabilitation of real elephants and end their captivity.
In a release, PETA stated that Raman would help conduct ceremonies safely and cruelty-freely. They stated that live elephants are often subjected to the extreme loudness of timpani, which is damaging and distressing for them. The initiative hopes to end the horror of captivity for real elephants, allowing them to live freely in forests.
Speaking on occasion, Ms Thiruvothu said that it’s high time we made stronger and more impactful strides towards stopping animal abuse and letting them have respectful and dignified lives. The head priest of the temple, Rajkumar Namboothiri, expressed gratitude for the mechanical elephant, which will help conduct rituals and festivals cruelty-free. He also hoped other shrines would consider replacing live elephants with mechanical ones.
PETA claimed that most elephants in captivity in India, including Kerala, are held illegally or transported to a different state without permission. Frustration from captivity leads elephants to display abnormal behaviour, and at their wit’s end, they often try to break free, running amok and harming humans, other animals, and property.
According to figures compiled by the Heritage Animal Task Force, captive elephants killed 526 people in Kerala in 15 years. PETA urged all venues and events using elephants to switch to lifelike mechanical elephants or other means instead of actual elephants. It also called for retiring elephants already in captivity 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.
Introducing a mechanical elephant in a temple to replace real elephants is an innovative and welcome step towards animal welfare. Hopefully, more temples and events across India will adopt similar practices, leading to better treatment and rehabilitation of elephants in captivity.