Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, on Thursday, penned a letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, calling on Rajasthan's forest and environment minister to relocate an elephant, known as 'Number 44', to a rehabilitation facility.
A group of American tourists had witnessed eight men violently beating an elephant at Amber Fort in June last year, and the animal is still being forced to give rides.
"As a professional cricketer, I am proud to represent our country, but when I learned about the hateful attack on 'Number 44' last June, I felt so ashamed," Kohli wrote in the letter.
"Violence against animals is completely unacceptable, not to mention illegal, and our nation cannot fail elephants this way. I beseech you to start helping them by transferring Number 44 to a reputable rehabilitation facility where she can get the care she needs, socialise with others of her kind, and live free from chains, abuse, and fear."
Kohli's letter follows PETA India's complaint to the Chief Wildlife Warden of the Rajasthan Forest Department, which resulted in a show-cause notice being issued to 'Number 44's' custodian, Wasid Khan, holding him responsible for the abuse.
The notice stated that an investigation carried out by the regional forest officer for Jaipur Zoo along with a photograph supplied by the American witness indicated that the elephant was treated cruelly, in apparent violation of numerous animal-protection laws.
The Jaipur police also registered an FIR against the unidentified men under Sections 429 and 289 of the Indian Penal Code for mistreating the elephant and putting the public at risk. However, Khan continues to use the animal for rides.
PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment" – notes that captive elephants, such as the ones forced to give rides in Jaipur, are controlled under the threat of beatings.
They are often denied adequate food and veterinary care, and routinely suffer from foot problems and arthritis because they're forced to stand on hard surfaces for long periods of time. Many develop neurotic forms of behaviour and die prematurely.