I’ve recently learned about yet another way that elephants are being mistreated. Owners in the state of Kerala in India holds festivals each year to show off their elephants. A variety of competitions are held that stress the elephants without regard to their welfare. One of these competitions involves elephants holding their heads and trunks up in the “salute” posture typically seen in the circus. The objective is to see which elephant keeps his head up the longest. This is an unnatural position for an elephant to maintain for any length of time, and it puts tremendous strain on the entire body, especially the neck and trunk muscles. Also, when an elephant holds its trunk curled upward, its ability to breathe is impaired.
Since the elephants wouldn’t normally engage in this activity, the mahouts use knives, sticks, hooks, whatever works to force the elephant to keep its head raised. These competitions can last for hours. Just imagine what it must feel like to have a knife held to your throat for that length of time.
There is a petition on Change.org requesting that the government of Kerala eliminate this activity by enforcing the laws and punishment. I hope you’ll join me in signing it.
Photo used from Change.org petition