TIRUCHI, April 20: : Authorities and devotees at the Mariamman temple at Samayapuram, hear here, spent anxious hours on Wednesday, as the temple elephant turned violent.
Veterinary experts, who were immediately alerted on the animal showing signs of "violent" behaviour inside the shed, said the pachyderm was in the "musth period", a normal biological phenomenon during which the animal would be "excited".
Seventeen-year-old Mariyappan, weighing 3.5 tonne, has been in the temple for over 10 years now.
The main gate of the shed was locked to prevent the animal from coming out and the temple authorities as a precautionary measure sealed South Car Street, where the shed is located. The temple has been attracting thousands of devotees everyday because of the Chithirai festival. Temple authorities said the movement of pedestrians and devotees was not affected.
A police team and personnel of the Forest and Fire Services and Rescue Departments rushed to the spot and kept a constant watch.
The temple authorities said the mahout, Sugumar, removed the chains at around 6.45 a.m. to enable the elephant to drink water from the tank inside the shed. He tied the hind leg and was about to chain it with the fore leg when the animal knocked him down. The mahout took refuge in the kitchen in the shed and raised an alarm over telephone. Temple officials, who rushed to the spot, noticed secretion between the eyes and the ears, an indication of the elephant being in "musth." The animal smashed the chain.
Veterinary experts stuffed diazepam tablets in plantains and offered them to the animal from a distance. A veterinary team from the Vandalur Zoological Park, comprising assistant surgeon Senthil Kumar, biologist N. Bhaskaran and an animal attendant, reached Samayapuram in the afternoon to examine the "excited" animal.
They brought along with them a "Dist Inject" with the help of which they fired the tranquilliser at the animal from the terrace of a building next to the shed. The team administered 300 mg of "xylazine" through the air gun. The animal, they said, became calm in the night.