Just when the future seemed forever bright for Raju, the “crying elephant,” a specter looms that might take his happiness away again.
Care2 members will remember Raju’s sad story. He lived a life of abject misery, spending 50 long years with a series of up to 27 different owners who starved him, beat him and kept him in chains.
Raju’s last owner, an alleged drug dealer and addict, forced him to wear painful spiked metal shackles on his legs. He controlled him by poking him with a sharp spear, using Raju to beg for money from tourists. Raju never had enough to eat, sometimes consuming things like plastic and paper to stay alive.
To see Raju’s story, watch this video:
The group Wildlife SOS found out what was going on and worked for a year behind the scenes to get Raju away from his captor. The group staged a dramatic midnight rescue on July 4, 2014. Armed with judicial pre-approval, Wildlife SOS’s ten veterinarians and wildlife experts, two police officers and 20 Forestry Commission officers moved in and confiscated Raju.
Reports say Raju wept a tear of joy as rescuers cut his chains from his poor, abscessed legs.
A Healthy, Happy Life with Other Elephant Friends
Since his rescue, Raju has been living peacefully at Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India. He’s now a member of a group of rescued elephants known as the Herd of Hope.
“He had been so terribly brutalized for 50 years that we feared he’d be unable to live with his own kind,” Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan told The Daily Mail. “He didn’t even know how to be an elephant. But now it’s like he’s always been with them.”
Raju now bathes in a pool whenever he wishes. He gets his fill of nourishing food and the medical care he needs to recover. Best of all, he lives with other elephants. It’s perhaps the first time in his life that he has companionship and loving care. He’s obviously much happier than he’s ever been, as evidenced by this photo:
A Legal Challenge May Spell Doom for Raju
Shockingly, Raju’s good fortune may be poised to go sour. His former owner, the alleged drug dealer, wants him back. He’s taking his claim to India’s court system, asserting that Raju is his property and must be returned.
“Raju was treated with such appalling cruelty and torture,” Satyanarayan told The Mirror. “We will argue that the owner broke wildlife protection and animal cruelty laws and that Raju was being kept illegally. We want this case to set a precedent across India to change the way elephants are treated.”
Raju isn’t the only elephant at the sanctuary that is imperiled by legal action. Laxmi, a female elephant who suffered much the same type of cruelty as Raju, is also facing a legal demand that she be returned to her abusive former “owner.”
“After all he has been through, we still have to fight for his freedom,” lamented Satyanarayan to the Times of India. “We hope the honorable court will grant him justice. He has been treated with such appalling cruelty by his former owner, who has no legal claim on him under wildlife laws.”
Monday, September 15, 2014
Raju - the crying elephant update
Raju the crying elephant update:
Posted by commoncents at 6:43 PM