Gajraj the elephant spent 51 years of his life as a present to the Queen of Aundh, kept in chains at a temple in Satara, India – but all that is changing now!

At the age of 70, Gajraj has spent the majority of his days used in temple processions. When his health started to give, he was turned into a kind of permanent tourist attraction.


The elephant suffering from wounds and abscesses, especially around his legs where he was being hurt over and again with the heavy shackles that rubbed on his skin, to the point where flesh was exposed. He also became partially blind and was exhibiting many signs of zoochosis. This poor animal was noted swaying back and forth, bobbing his head, and trying to free himself from the shackles – compulsively and neurotically, but hopelessly. Further, Gajraj’s tusks have been sawed off to “protect” people who saw him, but they could just as well have been sold in the ivory market.

The elephant’s condition was declining quickly and his release and retirement became the focus of many groups and individuals. PETA launched a campaign for Gajraj and a petition by Elephant Freedom Fighters has been circulating to get him out. Now, our wish for justice and respect for Gajraj has become reality – the elephant is moving to a sanctuary!

The rescue of beautiful Gajraj has been carried out by Wildlife SOS, with the help of heavy police protection and cooperation from Maharashtra Forest Department. The elephant is moving to their Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura.

In his new home, he will spend the rest of his life in safety, surrounded by respect and love, in conditions suitable to the needs of an animal of his species.

Together with a lifetime care, Gajraj will also receive much needed long-term medical treatment. His plight finally came to an end after a medical examination revealed that he required treatment for his toenail abscess, which could spread to the bone. He also had hip abscesses and severe degeneration of foot pads – all of which qualified him as a candidate for geriatric care at the center.

The elephant was given a warm farewell by the royal family of Aundh.

Despite the unexpected upheaval caused by the local villagers at the departure of Gajraj, the animal was successfully placed inside the elephant Ambulance and set out on his journey!


This wonderful animal will finally have his happy ending and the years of his late life will be filled only with good things. “The advancing age of this elephant means more he needs a lot of medical care more than anything else,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder Wildlife SOS, “We shall give him the best of care.”


To learn more about Wildlife SOS, click here.

All image source: Wildlife SOS