Raju moved the world with his tearful reaction when he was ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇd by Wildlife SOS volunteers, a charity which ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇs ᴡɪʟᴅʟɪꜰᴇ across India, in July 2014. These incredible video show the moment an elephant who was ʜᴇʟᴅ in ᴄʜᴀɪɴs and ʙᴇᴀᴛᴇɴ and ᴀʙᴜsᴇᴅ for fifty years cried as he was released to freedom. His ʜᴇᴀʀᴛʙʀᴇᴀᴋɪɴɢ story went viral a few years ago, and a lot has changed since then.
But more importantly, he has learned to love back and trust people. His transformation is absolutely astounding and yet another proof that elephants are strong, enduring animals whose power surpasses what no one, regardless of their characteristics, should ever experience.
He had previously spent five decades roaming the streets of Uttar Pradesh with his owner, who was keeping him ɪʟʟᴇɢᴀʟʟʏ and using him for begging. During that time, Raju was ᴛɪɢʜᴛʟʏ ʀᴇsᴛʀᴀɪɴᴇᴅ by sᴘɪᴋᴇᴅ ᴄʜᴀɪɴs, while his thin body bore ᴍᴜʟᴛɪᴘʟᴇ sᴄᴀʀs and ᴀʙsᴄᴇssᴇs, ᴄᴀᴜsᴇᴅ by repeated ᴊᴀʙs with a bullhook. He had become gaunt and miserable from years of ᴍɪsᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ, ᴀʙᴜsᴇ and inadequate care.
Since his ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ, Raju has been living in happy retirement at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Churmura, where he has his own large enclosure. He also has around the clock access to a pool, regular medical attention and nutritious food. Raju celebrated his fifth year at the conservation with a healthy elephant ‘cake’ made of cooked pulses, fruit and vegetables festooned with a number five created out of sugarcane.
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-Founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, said: ” The past five years with Raju has been an incredible journey for all of us. His determination to get better has accelerated his recovery to an extent that nobody was sure, was possible. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the amount of pain and loneliness he endured for so many years.”
When a group of concerned people finally set Raju free, the elephant’s happiness was hard to describe in words. A heart-melting moment for everyone. Pooja Binepal, from Wildlife SOS , said: “It was incredibly emotional. The team was amazed to see tears rolling down his face during the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ. We knew that in our hearts, he realized that he was liberated. Elephants are not only majestic, but they are also brilliant animals that have been shown to feel grief, so we can only imagine what it has been through for half a century.”
Thankfully, Raju had a happy ending and was able to live out his last years in peace. However, hundreds of other elephants in ᴄᴀᴘᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ are still ignored by heartless people and ʜᴜʀᴛ their sole concern of making a profit