A Hindu temple in India wants to use a life-size mechanical elephant instead of real pachyderms at religious ceremonies for reasons of animal welfare. The mechanical elephant was recently donated to the temple in the state of Kerala by the animal rights organization PETA, as announced.

It can move its head, trunk and ears, for example, as video footage shows. Priest Rajkumar Namboothiri of the temple said: “We are very fortunate and grateful to have received this mechanical elephant, which will help us conduct our rituals and festivals in a non-violent way, and we hope other temples will also consider it to substitute live elephants for rituals.”

Kerala has a particularly large number of captive elephants, which have important religious significance and are very popular. But animal rights activists repeatedly criticize how the animals are treated. They are usually chained up in temples, and they have to be decorated at religious festivals with lots of people and drums. They are also beaten by the elephant leaders so that the big animals accept the dominant position of humans.