In 2007, Masini, a 10 years old female captive temple elephant, was found by the Tamil Nadu forest department as a wild calf of just 3 months old in the forests of Kargudi near Mudumalai. She was brought to the Forest Department’s Theppakadu elephant camp in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR). Factors such as space, forest area, cool climate and her bonding with other elephants in the camp helped her achieve a sense of freedom and a good quality life. Disregarding Masini’s natural and wild instincts and her way of living, she was ‘donated’ to Samayapuram Temple in 2016, located at Trichy, by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalitha.

Recently, Masini, who generally has a calm and peaceful demeanour, ended up killing her mahout by trampling him. This unfortunate incident of the elephant’s rage is alarming and clearly highlights the impact of living a life without liberty, autonomy, dignity or being able to socialise with others of her own kind. At present, Masini is temporarily housed to be treated for severe injuries inflicted on her while she was at the temple. Her daily routine would comprise of going to the temple every morning and evening and being made to ‘bless’ devotees. She was kept at a shed nearby in solitary confinement.

Masini needs to be rehabilitated for good to her natural surroundings, back to the Forest Camp where she was raised, away from the captive conditions of the temple where she was constantly being goaded and being deprived of a dignified life and bodily liberty. These captive conditions have emotionally disturbed Masini and are contrary to her interests and emotional as well as physical well-beings.

FIAPO has asked the Minister of Forests, Tamil Nadu to recognise Masini's status as a non-human person and rehabilitate her immediately to protect her rights, including:

1. Right to life with dignity
2. Right to bodily liberty, integrity and autonomy
3. Right to interact and socialise with other elephants

Read the overwhelming legal arguments, biological evidence and ethical arguments why Masini must be liberated here

Masini is an autonomous and she values her liberty in ways similar to humans. In numerous ways she has expressed her distress but it has fallen to the deaf ears of the temple authorities and the Forest Department of Tamil Nadu. Animals have an inherent right to live a dignified or quality life which for Masini would include bodily liberty, socialisation with others of the same kind and expression of natural behaviour.

The ailing Samayapuram Temple elephant Masini was shifted late on Friday night to the Veterinary College and Research Institute at Orthanad in Thanjavur district for a complete medical check-up. Click To Read More

Sign The Petition


Freedom for Masini


Dear Sir

Animals have been consistently exploited, used and abused for human needs and denied a dignified life. With no legal recognition of their rights, countless animals lead miserable and degraded life. At present, animals are considered as mere property under the law and such objectification of living beings sanctions use of such beings contrary to their interests.

I would like to bring to your notice a classic case of such commodification which is that of Masini, a female captive temple elephant at the Samyapuram Temple, Tiruchirapali. She was rescued as a 3-month old wild calf abandoned by her herd from the forests of Kargudi near Mudumalai, Tamil Nadu and was brought to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department’s Theppakadu Forest Camp in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The reserve provided her a natural environment along with healthy companionship with other elephants in the camp before she was ‘donated’ to the temple in 2016.

Masini gained limelight after an incident which took place on 25th May 2018 where she killed her mahout in a fit of rage showing the kind of mental toll that the captive conditions at the temple have taken on her. The lack of a natural, conducive environment and constant solitude, being the lone elephant being kept in captivity in the temple, has caused undue damage to her and hence the need for her to be rehabilitated is immediate as she is still young and permanent damage is avoidable. The treatment she endures has deprived her of the right to a dignified life and bodily liberty endowed upon her and every other animal by the Apex Court in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A Nagaraja.

At present, Masini is recovering from severe wounds sustained by her during her abuse at the Samayapuram Temple. Masini needs to be rehabilitated to her natural surroundings from the captive conditions of the temple, where she was constantly being goaded and deprived of a dignified life and bodily liberty. These captive conditions have emotionally disturbed Masini.

To uphold the Masini’s right to live a life with dignity and to bodily liberty and also to uphold the spirit of the Constitution of India, the various laws, policies and judgments with respect to elephants, it is essential to release Masini from the captive conditions of the temple and to rehabilitate her to a sanctuary or to the Theppakadu Forest Camp where she can live with dignity, have bodily liberty and be able to express natural behaviours, especially that of socialising with others of her kind. Masini must also be seen as a ‘person’ and not mere ‘property’ to ensure that these rights are fully realised.

I urge you to liberate Masini from the captive conditions of the Samayapuram temple and rehabilitate her by treating her as a person with inherent value and rights.


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