Skeletal elephant dies in Sri Lanka weeks after parade outcry

A 70-year-old Sri Lankan elephant named Tikiri, whose emaciated state prompted an outcry in August after she was made to march in a Buddhist parade and collapsed, sparking an investigation by wildlife authorities, has died. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Skeletal elephant dies in Sri Lanka weeks after parade outcry

  • Elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene said the jumbo had been ill-treated
  • The animal was withdrawn from the finale of the annual Temple of the Tooth pageant in Kandy last month

COLOMBO: An emaciated 70-year-old elephant that caused a social media outcry after being forced to take part in an annual Buddhist pageant in Sri Lanka has died, officials said Wednesday.
The government has ordered an autopsy for Tikiri, a domesticated Asian elephant that died Tuesday night in Kegalle, 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of the capital Colombo, a wildlife department official said.
Elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene said the jumbo had been ill-treated.
“Tikiri was severely undernourished,” Jayewardene told AFP. “It is a wonder that she lived this long.”
The animal was withdrawn from the finale of the annual Temple of the Tooth pageant in Kandy last month after a social media firestorm erupted against parading the feeble animal.
Animal lovers lambasted authorities for forcing the aged beast to parade several kilometers wearing elaborate attire at the hugely popular night festival.
Lek Chailert, the founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, wrote on social media that spectators did not realize how weak Tikiri was because of her costume.
After the public outcry, Wildlife Minister John Amaratunga ordered an investigation into why Tikiri was made to participate in the annual parade despite her failing health, but the outcome was not made known.
The Temple of the Tooth, Buddhism’s holiest shrine on the island, holds the annual festival with traditional drummers and dancers as well as nearly 100 elephants.
Many rich Sri Lankans keep elephants as pets, but there have been numerous complaints of ill-treatment and cruelty.
Guinness World Records says the average age of an Asian elephant is around 60 years, while the oldest on record was Lin Wang, a bull who carried supplies for the Japanese army in what was then Burma during World War II before dying in a Taiwan zoo in 2003 aged 86.


Driver smashes $750,000 Porsche on deserted Manhattan streets during New York COVID-19 lockdown

Updated 08 April 2020

Driver smashes $750,000 Porsche on deserted Manhattan streets during New York COVID-19 lockdown

  • The millionaire luxury car owner was arrested by officers and charged with reckless driving

LONDON: A driver wrecked a $750,000 rare Porsche while speeding down the deserted streets of Manhattan during New York City’s coronavirus lockdown.

Luxury car owner Benjamin Chen, 33, lost control of his Porsche Mirage GT on Tuesday, plowing into several cars in the process.

Several New York residents watched on as Chen drove the heavily damaged car away from the scene with only two functioning wheels.

Police officers eventually caught up with Chen, who is known for his luxury car collection and his participation in the Gold Rush Rally — a supercar race across several US states notorious for its accidents.

The millionaire was arrested by officers and charged with reckless driving and driving under the influence.

CCTV footage of the crash circulated on social media in the hours after the incident, with other videos on Instagram showing Chen speeding away from the scene as well as his arrest.

New York has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak with 731 new fatalities reported on Tuesday, which brought the total to 5,489 deaths and 138,836 infections.