When the world first met Raju the elephant, he was living in chains being used as a tourism prop in India. The poor elephant had spent over 50 years living in these abusive conditions, knowing nothing but long days begging on the streets for money and constant beatings from his cruel handlers.

RAJU BEING BEATEN

 

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Elephants are extremely intelligent and emotional creatures, so this sort of life was not only unsuited for Raju, but it took an enormous toll on his mental and physical health. This all changed, however, when Wildlife SOS stepped in and helped to coordinate a covert rescue mission to free Raju from this suffering. Although Wildlife SOS had obtained all the necessary permits to free Raju, his owners were set on keeping him captive and did their best to block off all roads to the elephant and weighed him down with additional heavy chains.

RAJU'S CRYING PICTURE

 

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Luckily, this was no match for the rescue team and they worked through the night to get Raju to safety. Reports from the rescue say that Raju was so pleased to finally get out of his chains that he burst into tears of joy. Now, Raju has been living at the Wildlife SOS elephant sanctuary for nearly one year and his entire life has changed for the better!

In celebration of Raju’s rescue anniversary, the sanctuary through this well-deserving elephant a party, complete with a 38-inch cake.

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Ah, the sweet taste of freedom!

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Since coming to the sanctuary, Raju has made lots of friends and spends his days in their company.

raju with the girls

Raju no longer has to beg for scraps on the streets, but gets to enjoy all the finest fruits fit for an elephant in his new home.

raju eating fruits

 Raju is learning what it means to live like a normal elephant – from the looks of it, he’s having a blast!

raju's first enrichment

While it is tragic that Raju had to wait 50 years to experience this sort of joy and freedom, we are so pleased he is doing well one year later. We hope it is the first of many, many more years of happiness!

RAJU'S FIRST PICTURE WITHOUT CHAINS

To learn more about Wildlife SOS and to keep up to date with Raju, check out their website and Facebook page.

All image source: Wildlife SOS