Lakshmi, a 32-year-old female elephant of Sri Manakula Vinagayar temple in Puducherry, collapsed on the road and died of a suspected cardiac arrest on Wednesday, November 30. Two mahouts were accompanying the elephant when she was out for a daily morning walk from its enclosure at Sri Vedapureeswarar Temple on Eswaran Kovil Street. Temple authorities told IANS that an autopsy of the elephant would reveal the exact cause of death.
Lakshmi collapsed near the campus of Calve College Government Higher Secondary School on Kamatchi Amman Kovil Street, as she showed signs of fatigue and stopped walking, according to a report in The Hindu. The elephant did not respond to calls from the mahouts and died soon afterwards.
The body was lifted with help of a crane and brought to the Sri Manakular Vinayagar Temple to enable devotees to pay homage. DMK leader and former Chief Minister of Puducherry R V Janakiraman had donated the elephant to the temple, when it was 10 years old. Puducherry Chief Minister, N Rangasamy and Lieutenant Governor, Tamilisai Sounderarajan paid their tributes to Lakshmi.
Meanwhile, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) raised concern over the sudden collapse and death of the elephant. PETA had repeatedly requested the Government of Puducherry to shift the elephant to a sanctuary.
The Animal Welfare Board of India had also assessed the mental and physical health of the animal in 2015 and raised concerns over its health.
Khushboo Gupta, Director of Advocacy Project, PETA India in a statement said, "PETA India laments the fact that Lakshmi was never allowed to live the life an elephant desires with others of her own kind and free of shackles despite the many pleas made to the temple by caring people to allow her to be rescued."
The statement further said, "She was denied freedom and happiness and forced to endure years of extreme and unbearable loneliness in captivity. Given her sadness, her sudden death sadly comes as no surprise- it means an opportunity for her happiness lost."
With IANS inputs