Emaciated elephant forced to perform during religious festival in Sri Lanka has died

A sickly elephant whose photos went viral in August after she was forced to walk in a Sri Lanka festival, despite her skeletal frame, died on Tuesday.

A representative for the Save Elephant Foundation shared the tragic update about Tikiri, an elderly elephant who was kept at the Tooth temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka, in a heartbreaking Facebook post.

"There is both sorrow and relief here. To think of her brings such pain to my heart," the message reads. "That hard service was her life, and not freedom, carries for me a commitment to others who yet suffer. That we could not help her before her eyes would shut forever fosters a renewed courage, and bears a responsibility for us to find safe refuges for all of the captive Giants born under the yoke of Man. What we wished for Tikiri, even a few days of freedom with love and care, we will demand for others."

"Tikiri's suffering has ended, her soul is now free. No more harm can come to her," the post ends. "RIP dear Tikiri. Never look back to this world so cruel toward you and your friends."

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Emaciated elephant forced to perform during Perahera Festival festival in Sri Lanka
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Emaciated elephant forced to perform during Perahera Festival festival in Sri Lanka
In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 elephants decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival are lead past the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 an elephant decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival is lead past the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 elephants decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival are lead past the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 participants lead elephants decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival during a parade near the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 participants lead elephants decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival during a parade near the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 an elephant decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival is lead past the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 14, 2019 elephants decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival are lead past the Buddhist temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - 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 tamed elephants. (Photo by Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Sri Lankan mahout stands with his elephant ahead of the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy on August 14, 2019. - After a social media firestorm over using a feeble emaciated animal in the parade, the authorities withdrew her from the festival allowing her rest and medication. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Sri Lankan mahouts wash their elephants ahead of the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy on August 14, 2019. - After a social media firestorm over using a feeble emaciated animal in the parade, the authorities withdrew her from the festival allowing her rest and medication. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
An elephant decorated for the Perahera festival walks past the Gangarama Temple during a procession in Colombo on February 18, 2019. - Some 50 elephants, most of them from the central area of Kandy, together with thousands of traditional drummers, dancers, and monks have gathered in the Sri Lankan capital to participate in the city's biggest two-day annual Buddhist Navam procession scheduled for February 18-19. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
An elephant decorated for the Perahera festival walks past the Gangarama Temple during a procession in Colombo on February 18, 2019. - Some 50 elephants, most of them from the central area of Kandy, together with thousands of traditional drummers, dancers, and monks have gathered in the Sri Lankan capital to participate in the city's biggest two-day annual Buddhist Navam procession scheduled for February 18-19. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 25, 2018, elephants decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival are lead past Sri Lankan Buddhist the temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - The festival features a night procession of Kandyan dancers, fire twirlers, traditional musicians, acrobatic fire performers and elephants, gathering thousands of tourists and spectators from around the island. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on August 25, 2018, an elephant decorated for the "Esala Perahera" festival is lead past Sri Lankan Buddhist the temple of the Tooth in the ancient hill capital of Kandy, some 116 km from Colombo. - The festival features a night procession of Kandyan dancers, fire twirlers, traditional musicians, acrobatic fire performers and elephants, gathering thousands of tourists and spectators from around the island. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
An elephant carries an altar containing Buddhist relics during a procession in front of The Gangarama Temple in Colombo on March 1, 2018, during The Navam Perahera Festival. Some 30 elephants, most of them from central Sri Lanka, along with thousands of traditional drummers, dancers, and monks are gathering in the capital to participate in the city's biggest two-day annual Buddhist procession. / AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
An elephant carries an altar containing Buddhist relics in front of the Gangarama Temple during the Navam Perahera festival in Colombo on February 9, 2017. Monks, drummers, dancers and some 50 trained elephants, mostly from entral part of the island, thronged into Colombo from various regions of Sri Lanka to participate in the city's biggest two day annual Buddhist procession starting February 9. / AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI (Photo credit should read LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Tikiri's plight first made headlines after the Save Elephant Foundation shared photos of the emaciated creature on Facebook to mark World Elephant Day and raise awareness on the plight of elephants in captivity around the world.

The animal-rights group said at the time that Tikiri was just one of 60 elephants forced to walk in the yearly parades for 10 straight nights amid noise, smoke and fireworks to celebrate the Perahera Festival, or Festival of the Tooth, meant to pay homage to the sacred tooth relic of Buddha.

"She walks many kilometers every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony," the organization wrote in August. "No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition, because of her costume. No one sees the tears in her eyes, injured by the bright lights that decorate her mask, no one sees her difficulty to step as her legs are short shackled while she walks."

The skeletal appearance of the pachyderm sparked anger on Facebook, where many users called for Tikiri, as well as her fellow enslaved elephants, to be rescued and rehabilitated.

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