Sri Lanka’s government and Buddhist community are receiving negative attention because of Sindu and Raju, two baby elephants.
The pair were given to the Temple of the Tooth from Sri Lanka’s cabinet, as a gift that was to coincide with an annual festival in which Buddha’s tooth is paraded on the back of an elephant. The controversy here surrounds the treatment, and physical and mental condition of, both the infants and the mothers.
Animal rights groups claim that both the mother and the babies are terribly distraught, even ill, and are now acting out aggressively because of a too-early weaning, and so these groups have petitioned to the Courts. Others claim that the Sri Lankan Buddhist community is sacrificing morality for festival showboating. Both the Temple and the government seem steadfast.
Is this a matter of ritual over morals? Is it blown out of proportion? Just a misunderstanding? Here are some links to items about the controversy, to help you join the conversation:
The Buddhism Channel: Baby jumbos, Buddhism, and baloney
The Island Online: Cruelty to Animals
ColumboPage: Sri Lanka SC rejects the petition over controversial baby elephants
Leslie Irvine says
This is a tragic instance of cruelty that reflects badly on buddhism. These elephants will never recover from the trauma, and ample research shows that elephants do suffer lifelong scars from separation. I hope the animal rights groups prevail, but the elephants will never be the same.
Kirsty Glover says
Does anybody have an update on the situation? The last I heard was that the youngsters had been transferred to the premises of an elephant trainer a few days ago so that they could be 'tamed', and there has been no more word on whether they are to be reunited with their mothers. The public face of Buddhism in Sri Lanka has been permanently scarred by the activities of a small group of ego-maniacs over the last four weeks.