For 50 years, Raju endured various forms of abuse and lived in chains 24/7. When he became aware of his rescue, the elephant could not contain his emotion and began to weep.
Can you imagine what is would be like to live in confinement day in and day out, endure painful shackles around your feet, and be treated only as property, rather than a thinking, feeling being? That’s what Raju the eleohant endured for 50 years, until finally – earlier on the 2015 summer – he was gifted what should have been his along freedom.
For nearly five decades, Raju has walked the dusty roads of India, interacting with tourists for coins and food. When rescued his body bore the signs of malnutrition and scars from physical abuse, reports The Dodo. But, of cocures, the emotional toll Raju endured was no less traumatic.
Said Pooja Binepal of Wildlife SOS:
“Raju’s case was particularly tragic. He has been sold on and on. We believe he has had up to 27 oweners. By the time we found him he was in a pathetic condition. He was not fed properly and was in a state of hunger and echaustion. He began eating plastic and paper. His nails are severely overgrown, he has abscessed and wounds because of his spiked shackles and continually walking on a Tarmac road has led to his footpad overgrowing.”
In July, a team led by the UK-base animal charity Wildlife SOS intervened to liberate Raju from his cruel existence. When it became clear to the aged elephant that team was there to help him, he began to weep, moving.
Raju was in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty. The team was astounded to see tears roll down his face during his face during the rescue. It was incredibly emotional. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed. Elephants are majestic and highly intelligent animals. We can only imagine what torture the past half a century has been for him,” shared Pooja.
The Rescue tool place one year after Raju’s unfortunate sistuation was first reported and a legal process was begun in partnership with local authorities to have him confiscated from his keeper.
The team worked tirelessly throughout the night to remove the sharp shackles from his feet.
Once freed, the elephant was relocated 350 miles away to Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Convervation and Care Centre at Mathura, India. Where he reveived much needed medical care before becoming companions with the other rescued elephants at the sanctuary.
It is believed the elephant was abducted from his mother inthe wild some 50 years ago and has suffered mistreatment at the hands of various owners ever since. Thankfully, his life is now drastically different and Raju is much happier.
“Until we stepped in he’d never known what it is like to walk free of his shackles,’ syas Binepai. “But today he knows what freedom is and he will learn what kindness feels like.”
To help this lovely elephant, contributions can be made at Wildlife Org.