Indian Temple Adopts Robotic Elephant to Curb Animal Cruelty

Mar 1, 2023

Worshippers at one temple in India were treated to quite a sight: an 11-foot-tall robot elephant. It's wearing ceremonial attire. The robot is ready to carry guests around the temple grounds.

The robot belongs to Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple. It's in the south of India. The Indian state is called Kerala. 

The elephant is named Irinjadappily Raman. It was a gift from PETA. The group has long worked in India to protect the elephants. Elephants are used in religious ceremonies. PETA says the animals are abused at those events. They are exposed to loud noises. The animals are also chained to heavy concrete blocks. Some are beaten.

“It's high time we made stronger … strides towards stopping such abuse,” PETA said.

By donating Raman, PETA hopes to fight animal abuse. It also wants to make sure people stay safe. Captive elephants have killed 526 people in Kerala over the last 15 years, PETA reports. Raman will perform the same duties of a live animal. He isn't a danger, though. The 1763-pound robot can carry up to five people at a time. Motors inside allow people to move its trunk.

The temple’s head priest led a ritual for Raman over the weekend. The priest hopes it will inspire other places in India. 

“We are … happy and grateful to receive this mechanical elephant which will help us to conduct our rituals … in a cruelty-free way, and we hope that other temples will also think about replacing live elephants for rituals,” he said. 

Photo by Bisakha Datta courtesy of Unsplash.

Which word from the story means ceremony or rite? (Common Core RI.5.4; RI.6.4)
a. “temple”
b. “priest”
c. “ritual”
d. “mechanical”
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