Raju the elephant was rescued in India following 50 years of torture and captivity.
An elephant who had been shackled with spiked chains for his entire 50-year life cried tears of joy when he was finally freed from his horrific captivity.
Raju had water streaming down his face as a daring team of rescuers swooped in on Wednesday night to release him from his confinement in India.
Vets and wildlife experts from the British-based Wildlife SOS-UK were joined by 20 Forestry Commission officers and two cops in the dangerous nighttime operation.
The squad raided the farm in India’s Uttar Pradesh region, where Raju who’d been regularly beaten and abused by his owners, who used him to beg for money was being kept.
And they claim that, as they liberated him from his manacles, he openly wept because he realized that his half-century ordeal was coming to an end.
“Raju was in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty. The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue,” Wildlife SOS-UK’s Pooja Binepal said.
“It was incredibly emotional. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed,” Binepal added.
Shackels are removed from Raju after 50 years of brutality
Raju, believed to have been snatched from his mom as a young calf, is thought to have had 27 owners and was being used as a “beggars’ prop” from dawn until dusk.
The rescue mission took place a year to the day after the charity had been alerted to Raju’s plight by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
A court order allowed rescuers to seize the giant animal, but Raju’s owner refused to give him up.
Deciding enough was enough, and seeing the terrible suffering that the elephant was enduring, rescuers approached Wednesday night with a truck.
They loaded the sedated bull onto the back before driving him 350 miles to the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre at Mathura, where his shackles were removed.
There, Raju took his first steps to freedom at 12.01 a.m. July 4 America’s Independence Day.
“The other elephants in the sanctuary awoke from their sleep as we pulled in and came to have a look it was an extraordinary moment,” Wildlife SOS-UK founder Kartick Satyanarayan said.
The freed beast will be held in an isolation pen for the next week so he can receive emergency medical attention. Wildlife officials are working to raise money so Raju can spend the rest of his life in a new enclosure.
“All he’s known from human beings is pain and suffering now we’re asking to help us help him live out his days, with grass under his feet free from humiliation and pain,” Satyanarayan said.
Raju will see the better side of humanity now.
“It will be a long rehabilitation process, but we will teach him that humans don’t mean pain and brutality, but it’s going to take time,” Satyanarayan said.
Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar works to help Raju
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