Wonderful news! After a heartbreaking 40 YEARS in captivity, Priyanka the elephant is finally FREE! The six-day-long rescue operation was carried out by Wildlife SOS, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife across India, in collaboration with the Forest Department and police. 

The 44-year-old elephant was rescued from a group of illegal wildlife traffickers who were trying to smuggle Priyanka through Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh. 

The gentle giant was sadly being used illegally for processions and wedding ceremonies. 

In a testament to Wildlife SOS’s dedication to Priyanka, the team had been tracking her for nearly a year to gather evidence to ensure a successful rescue. 

Wildlife SOS was also able to confiscate the chains and bullhooks that Priyanka’s handlers cruelly used on her. Bullhooks look similar to boat hooks or fireplace pokers, with long handles and a sharp metal hook and tip. Both ends are used to inflict pain on elephants. 

Because of such abuse, Priyanka suffers from severe chronic medical issues, such as progressive blindness, arthritis, degenerative joint disorder, as well as foot issues. 

But now, Priyanka is safely at Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Care and Conservation Center (ECCC) in Mathura. She will receive treatment for her injuries from a skilled veterinary team, as well as a nutritious diet. Wildlife SOS also notes that she will receive gentle exercise and frequent soaks in a pool. Go, Priyanka, go! 


“It is heartening to see Priyanka take her first steps towards a life of recovery and freedom. She is in need of a lot of medical care right now but we are relieved to know that Priyanka can now simply be an elephant in the company of other rescued elephants,” Geeta Seshamani, co-founder Wildlife SOS, said in a press release.

Amazingly, Wildlife SOS has rescued 27 elephants in just the last seven years from across India. Rescued from illegal captivity, wildlife trafficking, or exploitation for street begging and circuses, each of these elephants was subjected to extreme cruelty and decades of suffering.  This is heartbreaking to know considering the fact elephants are very empathetic and intelligent creatures. Studies have shown that elephants will comfort one another when they are distressed by offering caresses and chirps of sympathy to let their friend know everything will be okay.

Wildlife SOS is helping these individuals put their sad pasts behind them and embrace a new and happy life in their sanctuary. If you would like to help Wildlife SOS, you can donate via their website. And please share this wonderful victory for elephants with your friends and family!

Image Source: Wildlife SOS