The world renowned Trissur Pooram kicks off from April 29-30. More than 100 male elephants will be trucked in and displayed on the famous Thekkingkaadu Maidaan, in the heart of Trissur city. They will be transported from all across Kerala to the state's cultural hub, and paraded day and night, forced to stand for 36 straight hours, most of the time beneath the scorching sun.
Seventy per cent of illegal ivory ends up in China -- the world's largest ivory consumer, as the insatiable demand for the "white gold" is surging with the growing middle class populous. The root cause of this insane craving for ivory is ignorance. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), more than 70 per cent of Chinese don't realize that elephants are being killed for their ivory.
Elephants, those gentle giants, are one of the most majestic, intelligent and fascinating animals. In India alone, there are more than 3,000 captive elephants. In Kerala, festivals run from November through May, with May unravelling the most spectacular display of the majestic elephants to entertain people, but the most torturous season for these animals.
It was around 10:30 a.m. on a Friday this past June that a close friend and wildlife enthusiast, Mohan was driving me down the winding hills of Ooty -- a hill station in southern India. Suddenly, there was a distress call from a forest warden desperately trying to save an elephant. It had slipped and fallen into a two-metre deep trench.
The system is being foiled in the case of the proposed and agreed upon plan to send the Toronto Zoo's three remaining African elephants to an elephant sanctuary in California run by PAWS. To some, it seems a predictable case of the bureaucracy -- i.e.: the zoo people who want the prestige of having elephants -- trying to short circuit or sabotage decisions of those who are their bosses.
The ethical dimension of confining elephants in zoos has generated a great deal of debate in Canada. Elephants are intelligent, sensitive creatures whose physical, psychological and emotional needs simply cannot be met in zoos. Releasing them to sanctuaries is the best way to express our compassion for animals.