A mechanical elephant has been used by a temple in Kerala, a state in southern India, to perform its rituals.
The decision to stop using live animals for any celebrations was made by the administration at the Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in the Thrissur district.
Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India donated the model.
In doing so, they hoped to facilitate holding events "without resorting to cruelty.".
The state of Kerala is home to about a fifth of the nation's 2,500 or so captive elephants. Chained, saddled, and decorated, elephants play a significant role in temple festivals there.
Concerns about the treatment of animals have been raised by activists for years. 138 captive elephants died in Kerala between 2018 and 2023, according to a letter sent last week by the Centre for Research on Animal Rights to the state's chief minister about the increasing mortality of the mammal.
PETA urged all temples in the state to switch to lifelike mechanical elephants in a statement released on Monday, claiming that subjecting live elephants to extremely loud noises during festivals was "cruel.".
The group continued, "It's about time we took stronger and more significant steps to stop this abuse and allow animals to live respectful and honorable lives.
According to the Indian Express newspaper, the PETA-donated elephant model is 11 feet (3 points 3 meters) tall, weighs 800 kilograms (1763 pounds), and has an iron frame.
According to temple priest Rajkumar Namboothiri, who spoke to the Indian Express, officials were pleased to receive the mechanical elephant.
Mr. Namboothiri said, "We hope other temples will also consider using robotic elephants in place of real elephants for their rituals.
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