Except in captivity. Elephants are held in countless temples - 600 elephants are held captive in the Indian state of Kerala, alone, where Iyer focuses her new film. The massive animals, she says, "are loaded and unloaded in trucks from festival to festival, [with] no food [and] no water under the scorching sun, in 45 degree heat [Celsius, 113 degrees Fahrenheit]. [They are] exploited for profit under the guise of culture and religion."
Temples use elephants to draw crowds, she explains, and solicit donations that are used to maintain the temples, but hardly any money earned by these elephants are used to provide them with even the most basic necessities of life.
"They're decorated in heavy ornaments, made to carry heavy idols of deity and paraded for hours on end to entertain people," she says. "There's something sinister about using these gentle giants to worship the same god who created them."
Temple elephants are often chained "24/7...enslaved in shackles, tortured and neglected forever," claims Iyer.