Celebrities petition chief ministers to become 'ele-friends'

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Mumbai, Sep 20 (UNI) Celebrities from different walks of life have petitioned Chief Ministers in the country to become 'Ele-friends' and emulate Maharashtra in banning entry of Elephants into Urban areas.

The petition is timed to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of elephant Lakshmi, who was killed by a truck last September.

The government of Maharashtra has already banned the entry of elephants into Mumbai.

Celebrities including Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu, Congress MP Priya Dutt, John Abraham and Raveena Tandon together with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals India (PETA) have made a statement of compassion for elephants, who live in cities where they are forced to walk on scorching-hot, bad roads in busy traffic amid a cacophony of horns and engines, PETA chief functionary Anuradha Sawhney said here yesterday.

The other signatories of PETA's petition include film maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Isha Koppikar, Mahesh Bhatt, Yana Gupta, Rahul Khanna, Celina Jaitley and Gulshan Grover.

Ms Sawhney said life in the streets means misery for elephants as they are prodded and hooked with sharp, metal ankuses that cause pain and suffering. When they are not working, the elephants are chained by their legs, unable even to move a single step. They commonly suffer from potentially deadly foot ailments, skin problems, eye infections and cataracts.

Elephants are highly intelligent and social animals. They spend about 18 hours a day walking, feeding, bathing in water holes and interacting with other elephants. They are known to mourn the loss of relatives, just as humans do. In captivity, elephants are separated from their families as babies and are sentenced to a lifetime of boredom, loneliness and abuse.

''We hope that other governments will emulate the progressive step of the government of Maharashtra. The petition should serve as a wake-up call'', said Ms Sawhney.

UNI

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