Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Update on ‘baby tuskers’ at Temple of the Tooth

A child is passed under the young elephant's head as a blessing
A child is passed under the young elephant's head as a blessing

On Saturday 25th July 2009, two baby elephants were taken from Pinnewala orphanage in Sri Lanka and transferred to the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), the country’s largest Buddhist temple in Kandy.

Both these calves were around three years old – very young to be removed from their mothers, which normally would not be done before they reached five years of age. However, since it was already clear that they would both grow up to have tusks (which is rare in Sri Lankan elephants) they were very desirable for religious purposes, such as taking part in processions (Perahera).

There was a national outcry in Sri Lanka as the story was widely reported in the press and commented on in various media. Born Free added its voice by writing to the President on two occasions, and spreading the news to our supporters and website visitors. Unfortunately, however, the authorities involved did not respond to these requests and enquiries. After some weeks the public sense of outrage began to subside, and the opportunity to return the unlucky animals to their mothers was lost.

In April 2010 a Born Free visit to the Temple took photos and footage of the two elephants on public display. They were standing with mahouts in the temple grounds, where many local and international visitors pass by, many of whom approached to touch or stroke them.

Several local parents stopped to pass their young babies underneath the animals’ heads, as a traditional blessing. Continuously supervised by mahouts carrying the traditional sharp-tipped ankus we were told that the young animals spend most afternoons subjected to this busy, stressful spectacle.

For more details see the original campaign page

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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