Temple elephant to undergo mercy killing

DH file photo for representation.

Rajeswari, an elephant of Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple in Salem, can be euthanised if it is concluded that it cannot be cured of a serious painful condition of her left foreleg, the Madras High Court ruled on Monday.

In a first of its kind order, a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose granted permission to authorities to euthanise the temple elephant if veterinary doctors certify that it would be cruel to force the animal to endure pain and suffering since the condition cannot be cured or treated.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by S Muralidharan, an avid animal lover, seeking permission to euthanise the elephant which has developed bed sores due to constant lying down for over a month due to serious complication in of one of her feet.

“Rajeswari had broken her leg some 10 years ago while she was being lifted from a truck. Since then, she had been standing only on three legs. As result of it, she developed arthritis and we know for sure it cannot be treated or cured. Since the elephant cannot be cured, we want her to go down,” Muralidharan of Chennai-based Indian Centre for Animal Rights and Education told DH.

After having failed to convince officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department to let the elephant down, Muralidharan knocked at the doors of the High Court seeking mercy killing for the animal.

“Why should the elephant suffer? You cannot bring up an elephant at this age of 45. If the elephant is young, we can still bring them up. We are kind of relieved now that the elephant does not have to endure pain and sufferings,” Muralidharan said.

The bench allowed euthanisation of Rajeswari if veterinary doctors certify that she cannot be cured of the disease and it would be cruel to force the elephant to endure pain and sufferings.

The elephant has been lying on the floor on one side for over a month.

“This led to the development of bed sores which had become severe and started decaying. Several veterinarians had attended to the elephant and in the process, they indulged in absurd methods of trying to make her stand up by lifting her with an earth mover,” Muralidharan said in his petition.

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