Can you imagine being shackled for five decades? Raju, the elephant, was caged, abused, and shackled for 50 years. He was forced to give tourists in India rides. The UK-based organization called Wildlife SOS saved Raju in 2014, and his reaction was priceless.
Raju was forced to live in terrible conditions. He has scars all over his body and is clearly malnourished. His legs were bound with spiked chains. The chains made it painful to walk, and Raju has chronic wounds on his legs.
Pooja Binepal, an aid worker, said that the team was shocked to see tears run down the big elephant’s face during his rescue. The team that rescued Raju consisted of 10 veterinarians, two policemen, and 20 Forestry Commission Officers.
They brought fruit and spoke softly to Raju as the chains were removed from his legs. Raju’s tears motivated everyone to work quickly to get him to safety.
The entire team knew Raju understood he was being rescued. It was an emotional moment – for everyone. Elephants are highly intelligent. There is no way to know how being mistreated for so long affected this magnificent creature.
Raju’s rescuers believe that he had been kidnapped from his mother when he was very young. He spent his life being passed around from one cruel owner to another. Now, Raju is free!
Raju is living at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in India and has the company of other elephants! Pooja said Raju finally knows what freedom feels like and will be learning what kindness feels like too.