Elephants behaving badly banned from India Republic Day parade

14th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

They will be this year absent due to the possibility that they might go "slightly berserk".

NEW DELHI - Bejewelled elephants that have delighted crowds at every Indian Republic Day since 1950 have been banned from this year's parade due to their "berserk" behaviour, officials said Wednesday.

The elephants had been a highlight of the procession through the centre of the capital marking India's birth as a republic, three years after independence from British rule.

But an official of the defence ministry, which organises the event, said elephants would be absent from events on January 26 due to fears for public safety and after pressure from animal rights activists.

"The main reason behind it is the safety aspect, and secondly the animal rights activists are not in favour of this," said the official, who declined to be named.

The elephants "had a tendency for going slightly berserk" during recent parades, he said.

The animals - dressed up in elaborate finery - have been a favourite with spectators and traditionally carried children who were recipients of bravery awards.

Last year there were concerns about a stampede after two elephants appeared to be out of control.

Fights also broke out between elephant owners and zoo officials who said the animals were being badly treated.

This year children who have won bravery awards will be ride in military vehicles.


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