Chained, Frightened Elephant Gets Hit by Scooter and Runs Through Crowd in Heartbreaking Video

A frightened Asian elephant in chains ran away through a crowd of people after it was hit by an electric scooter in India, footage shows.

The video posted to Facebook by Abhilash Asokan Manakkandathil shows the elephant being unloaded from a vehicle in the middle of a busy street in Kerala state. A man pulls on chains around the elephant's neck to coax it off the vehicle.

Once it is off the vehicle, the elephant stands still in the street while a man climbs up onto its back. A scooter then lurches quickly across the street and knocks one of the elephant's keepers to the ground, crashing right into the animal's back leg.

The startled elephant then runs away through the crowd of people. Panicked voices can be heard as pedestrians begin to disperse and look around for the animal.

Manakkandathil told Newsweek the incident occurred near Vypin Cherayi Ayyambilly temple in Kerala. The elephant was there to be used in festival celebrations, the Indian Express reported.

In Kerala, it is traditional to use Asian elephants in festival celebrations and processions. Many temples own elephants specifically to be used for this purpose.

The Kerala Forest Department has guidelines in place for how festival elephants should be treated, stating that they should not be overly stressed or subject to intense heat—however, many festival elephants are still paraded around for hours, often without food, water, or rest.

The elephant ran away startled, after the scooter rams into its leg

Kerala state has the second-highest number of captive elephants in India. It is estimated there are around 700 privately owned elephants in the state.

Officially, elephant owners must register with the Kerala Forest Department, so it can monitor the treatment of the animal. However hundreds are still kept illegally, in neglectful and abusive conditions.

Animal rescue and welfare organization Wildlife SOS has rescued many captive Asian elephants. Arinita Sandilya, a manager at the orgnaization, told Newsweek it is petitioning to ban all captive elephants from walking on Indian roads to avoid incidents such as this.

Commenting on the footage, Sandilya said: "This is extremely dangerous and reckless. In India, captive elephants are forced to walk for miles along busy streets and highways.

"Not only is this harmful for the elephant's body and feet, but also dangerous as the chaotic roads might frighten or agitate the elephant. In such cases, the elephant can go on a rampage, leading to severe consequences."

According to Wildlife SOS, when elephants retaliate from poor treatment, some people will turn to killing the animals, which is why it is important to avoid these accidents in the first place.

India is home to around 60 percent of Earth's remaining Asian elephant population. There are fewer than 22,000 left in the wild.

Captive elephant
A photo shows an elephant walking along a street in India. In some parts of the country, they are used for festival processions. NARINDER NANU/Getty Images