Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). For every man living in Kerala state of India are very important two things - the sea and the elephant. Sons of the Sahya (Western Ghats), elephants are an integral part of the daily life in Kerala. These Asian elephants are revered, loved, groomed and given a prestigious place in the State's culture. As the State animal, the elephant is featured on the emblem of the Government of Kerala. The very letter of Malayalam used to write the word aana (elephant) conveys the magnificence of elephant.
Almost all the festivals in Kerala include at least one richly caparisoned elephant. Elephants carry the deity during annual festival processions and ceremonial circumambulations in the temples. As the festival season in summer, many elephants face hardships words cannot explain. The Guruvayur temple has more than sixty domesticated elephants. The world's only Elephant Palace and the largest elephant sanctuary in Asia is constructed in Punnathur Kotta, 3 km from the temple, to house the temple's elephants.
Many elephants are featured in the legends of the land, the most popular one being Guruvayoor Kesavan. Aithihyamala (garland of myths) by Kottarathil Sankunni was written in eight volumes; each volume ending with a story or legend about a famous elephant.
Auspicious and inauspicious signs determine the quality of an elephant. These traits include a dignified look with a raised head and low back. The fore and the hind feet should be placed straight and firm on the ground; the legs must be straight without deformity; the twin domes on the head should be big; raised and evenly separated and must not be close to each other; the eyes must appear clear; the ears must be large; the ideal tusks should grow downwards, rise up, and then be evenly separated with butter or sandalwood colour; the trunk should be fleshy, broad, long and trailing on the ground and the tip of the trunk must be long, triangular and strong. The tail must be long.
Kerala had started the electronic registering of elephants under captivity by implanting 10 digit microchip ID cards in their body to minimise the cruelty towards the elephants. Elephants are purchased from Bihar, West Bengal and the North East.
Three types of devices are used to control elephants here. Hook which is 3.5 feet in length and 3 cm thick, long pole which is 10.5 feet in length and 5.5 cm in thickness, and short pole.