Dying elephant Muthu Raja’s misery continues in Sri Lanka

The misery of the dying elephant Muthu Raja is set to continue in Sri Lanka as local politicians blame one another for the creature’s plight and the head of the national zoological association declares that everything is fine.

Minister of Agriculture and Wildlife Mahinda Amaraweera has told the Secretary to the Ministry Chandra Herath to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure Dehiwala National Zoo takes proper care of the elephant.

Why Amaraweera thinks anything will change now, after 20 years of abuse and despair, is anyone’s guess.

The big bull was a gift from Thailand’s then queen now queen mother in 2001 to then Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who must bear most, if not all, of the blame for his condition. He has been mistreated, abused, humiliated and made to beg for tips more or less since the moment he arrived in Sri Lanka, a sign of great disrespect not only to Thailand but to Queen Mother Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakar. It was Kumaratunga who handed over the elephant to the Kande Viharaya Temple where monks have systematically tortured and abused him ever since.

The international outcry began in earnest when it became headline news that the dying bull elephant Muthu Raja faced severe distress due to the behaviour of the keeper in charge. The Thai ambassador to Sri Lanka arranged for the elephant to be taken from the barbaric temple and entrusted it to the no-less barbaric Dehiwala Zoo, where he remains.

As it was reported that the ambassador had decided to take Muthu Raja back to Thailand for appropriate care. After a private chat talks between Amaraweera and Herath, the decision was made keep to keep the tusker in the country, where the politicians’ respective reputations will be best cared for.

Dying elephant Muthu Raja’s misery continues in Sri Lanka | News by Thaiger
The suffering goes on as those who caused the elephant’s suffering struggle to save their own faces.

This latest act of cruelty is nothing more than an attempt by those who caused the elephant’s suffering to save their own faces. It must not be accepted by either the Sri Lankan or Thai people.

There is no good reason why Dehiwala zoo, should be left to care for the animals. The zoo has a shocking international reputation as a centre of outrageous abuse and participation in the illegal wildlife trade. Dehiwala is not a zoo, it’s a death camp and wildlife trafficking hub and should be closed permanently, not restocked.

In a spectacularly tone-deaf statement, the director general of the local zoological department stated that the elephant is currently in “a very good condition.” Perhaps he would like to swap?

Something must be done immediately to end the poor creature’s misery. How long will the Thai people be prepared to tolerate this cruelty and national insult?

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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