In a heartwarming display of emotion, an elderly elephant recently burst into tears after being rescued from 50 years of sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ. The elephant, Raju, had been held in ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ in India for much of his life, enduring ʙᴇᴀᴛɪɴɢs, sᴛᴀʀᴠᴀᴛɪᴏɴ, and long hours of labor.
This heartbreaking story is about an elephant Raju from India that had an incredibly rough life. After being ᴘᴏᴀᴄʜᴇᴅ by his mother, he was thrown from one owner to another until he lived in terrible conditions with no shelter at night, being used as a beggar prop all day. Raju sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇᴅ only from passing tourists and sometimes had to eat plastic and paper while chained 24 hours a day. A wildlife organization SOS-UK could not stand the injustice and decided to save him in a daring midnight rescue operation.
The elephant, realizing he was being saved, started to cry: “It was incredibly emotional. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed,” – claims Pooja Binepal, one of the rescuers, in an interview with Presspeople. “Tears began to roll down Raju’s face. Some were undoubtedly due to the ᴘᴀɪɴ, but he also seemed to sense that change was coming. He felt hope for the first time,” – says another rescuer Kartick.
Raju spent his whole life in ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ entertaining tourists and guests of his owner. After realizing that his sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ would end, he cried tears of joy.
It’s hard to know exactly what was going through Raju’s mind then. But the elephant was overwhelmed with emotion after years of suffering in ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ. Elephants are brilliant animals with complex emotions, and the ᴛʀᴀᴜᴍᴀ of ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ can have lasting effects on their well-being. While we are not 100% certain, scientific research supports the view that elephants weep as part of an emotional response.
He spent 50 years being shackled in chains, sometimes eating plastic and paper to fill his stomach. Thankfully, after long years of sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ, Raju was saved in a courageous midnight rescue operation by Wildlife SOS UK.
Raju’s owner tried to prevent the rescue, putting chains on his legs and shouting commands to ᴛᴇʀʀɪꜰʏ him. But the rescuers stood their ground. As they did, tears began to roll down Raju’s face. “He felt hope for the first time,” says Kartrick.
The chains were so tightly wrapped that it took 45 minutes to liberate him. Raju was driven to the sanctuary by brave rescuers 350 miles to the charity’s Elephant Conservation and Care Centre at Mathura. The elephant was so exhausted he could barely move.
Raju took his first steps toward freedom one-minute past midnight on July 4, finally tasting what freedom feels like. The charity is particular that Raju will spend the rest of his life free from sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ.
Raju’s tears were a powerful reminder of the profound emotions that animals can feel. They were also a testament to the resilience of animals in the face of adversity. After years of suffering, Raju is now thriving in his new home, surrounded by other rescued elephants and the caring staff of Wildlife SOS.
Raju’s rescue was a moment of triumph for animal rights activists worldwide. But it was also a sobering reminder of the challenges that elephants and other animals face in ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ. Across the globe, elephants are used for entertainment and forced to perform in circuses and tourist attractions. Many are also ᴅᴇᴛᴀɪɴᴇᴅ for use in logging and other labor-intensive industries.