Raju the elephant spent almost five decades of his life in captivity, forced to work as a begging elephant on the streets of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh until his life suddenly turned around. On July 4, 2014, Wildlife SOS rescued beautiful Raju and gave him the best gift he could have ever received – the gift of a new life. The elephant was quickly beloved by people all around the world after a video capturing what appeared to be tears rolling down his face was published and went viral. Dubbed the “crying elephant,” Raju was starting fresh, and he became a symbol of hope for captive elephants who continue being exploited and abused. Now, sweet Raju is celebrating his fourth “rescue-versary” at Wildlife SOS’ Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura – with a party put together by his caregivers especially in his honor!

“We had to step in and act quickly as we were certain that Raju’s life was in grave danger if he did not receive immediate veterinary treatment and emergency care,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS. “The chains around his legs had spikes which were cutting into his flesh – and each time he moved pus would ooze out of wounds. Pain and brutality were all he knew.”

“At Wildlife SOS we aim not only to rescue animals from distress situations, but also to provide them with a safer, happier and healthier life post-rescue,” Satyanarayan continued. Raju’s wounds are now healed and his painful past is exactly that – the past. Raju is thriving in his new home, cherishing the company of his elephant friends.

To celebrate the fourth anniversary of his rescue, the caregivers and veterinarians at the center put together an array of special enrichments for Raju.

The lucky elephant got a hanging feeder full of popcorn, a rubber tire with watermelons in his pool, and a whole pyramid of presents – his very favorite treats.

Raju’s enclosure was decorated lavishly with colorful streamers – cake for the occasion was a must – all to celebrate the resilient elephant and mark the special day.

 

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“Raju came to us with severe malnutrition, foot ailments and painful abscesses on his shoulder and hips, and required extensive care. … I am in awe of his resilience and it has been an honor for me to watch Raju make this remarkable journey to recovery,” said Dr. Yaduraj Khadpekar, Senior Wildlife SOS Veterinary Officer who led Raju’s rescue operation.

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All image source: Wildlife SOS