Tears of Freedom: Rescued Elephant Celebrates Birthday and Overcomes Years of Abuse

Tears of Freedom: Rescued Elephant Celebrates Birthday and Overcomes Years of Abuse

Raju, the elephant who endured 50 years of abuse, celebrated his birthday after being freed from his traumatic past. The gentle giant spent five decades in chains, suffering from starvation and beatings. In his desperate search for food, Raju resorted to eating plastic and paper.

This elephant captured the hearts of animal lovers worldwide and is now relishing his newfound freedom and birthday, a year after his rescue. Raju, a tuskless bull elephant, celebrated his 51st birthday on July 4th, coinciding with the anniversary of his first night of freedom in 2014. Wildlife SOS, a UK-based charity, saved Raju from his abusive owner after a lengthy legal process.

For the past year, Raju has been living at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India, under the care of Wildlife SOS. A fruit-based diet has helped him gain approximately 1,000lbs in weight. Raju’s arrival at the center marked a significant improvement in his condition, as he had numerous abscesses and over a hundred injuries from years of abuse. While many of his wounds have healed, he still experiences recurring swelling in his right hind leg, making it difficult for him to bear weight. It took nearly a year for a shoulder wound to fully heal, and at the time of his rescue, Raju was severely underweight and malnourished.

Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, expressed, “Raju now weighs 7,400lbs, having put on about 1,000lbs since his arrival. A healthy weight for an elephant of his size is between 11,000 to 12,000lbs. He is one of the lightest elephants, despite being the tallest at the facility.”

Raju’s tragic story began when he was poached from the wild as a baby and subsequently spent five decades in captivity, enduring cruelty from his drug addict owner. Exploiting Raju’s presence, the owner would solicit money from pilgrims at religious sites by claiming Raju could bless them. The elephant suffered years of starvation, beatings, and misery, resorting to consuming plastic and paper in a desperate attempt to find sustenance.

In December of the previous year, Raju was declared free after being held captive for 50 years in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. His emancipation was solidified when his previous owner failed in a legal attempt to reclaim him. The team from Wildlife SOS-UK, astounded by the conditions in which Raju lived, witnessed tears streaming down his face during the rescue operation.

Pooja Binepal, representing Wildlife SOS-UK, commented, “Raju was in chains 24 hours a day and had lived a life of intolerable cruelty. After one year of his freedom, I am overwhelmed by the love and support Raju has received from all over the world.”

Raju now resides at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre with 14 other rescued elephants. On the occasion of his birthday and the one-year anniversary of his freedom, the staff will present him with a card and a fruit-filled cake, his favorite treat.

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Nhat Dang