An elephant that was shackled for 50 years shed tears as rescuers freed him from the chains, and the touching moment was caught on camera.
Raju the elephant lived a torturous life on the streets of India for half a century. The animal was constantly beaten by his owner, left bleeding in shackles, made to beg for coins and forced to eat plastic and paper from people on the streets.
After learning of Raju’s struggle, London-based charity Wildlife SOS planned a rescue mission to free the innocent elephant from the torture that would have inevitably killed him. In the middle of the night on July 4, rescuers succeeded in giving Raju his very first taste of freedom.
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“Raju has spent the past 50 years living a pitiful existence in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty,” said Pooja Binepal, UK spokesman for Wildlife SOS. “The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was so incredibly emotional for all of us. We knew in our hearts he realised [sic] he was being freed. Elephants are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals, who have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what torture half a century has been like for him. Until we stepped in he'd never known what it is like to walk free of his shackles – it's a truly pitiful case. But today he knows what freedom is and he will learn what kindness feels like and what it's like to not suffer any more.”
Binepal says that Raju received medical attention as soon as he was freed from the shackles, and now, he is able to roam around freely. Wildlife SOS launched a fundraising campaign to raise money so that Raju can enjoy his life with other rescued elephants.