A mechanical elephant has been used in a temple's rituals in Kerala, a state in southern India.
Authorities at the Irinjadappilly Sree Krishna Temple in the Thrissur district took the initiative as part of their commitment to refrain from using live animals for any celebrations.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and actress Parvathy Thiruvothu donated the model.
They hoped that doing so would facilitate holding events "without resorting to cruelty.".
Elephants are ridden, decorated, and chained as part of Kerala's temple festivals; the state is home to about 2,500 captive elephants nationwide.
Animal rights advocates have raised issues with how they are treated for years. In a letter to the state's chief minister last week, the Center for Research on Animal Rights noted the increased mortality of the mammal and noted that 138 captive elephants had perished in Kerala between 2018 and 2023.
In a statement released on Monday, PETA urged all temples in the state to switch to lifelike mechanical elephants, claiming that subjecting live elephants to extremely loud noises during festivals was "cruel.".
The organization continued, "It's high time we made stronger and more significant steps towards ending such abuse and allowing animals to live respectful and dignified lives.
The PETA-donated elephant model is 11 feet (3 points 3 meters) tall, weighs 800 kilograms (1763 pounds), and has an iron frame, according to the Indian Express newspaper.
The Indian Express newspaper was informed by temple priest Rajkumar Namboothiri that the authorities were pleased to receive the mechanical elephant.
Mr. Namboothiri expressed the hope that other temples would consider using robotic elephants in place of real ones during rituals.
YouTube now hosts BBC News India. Click . here. subscribe and view our features, explainers, and documentaries.