This blog post was updated on October 4, 2018.
Meet Raju. Fifty years ago, awful human beings known as poachers stole Raju from his mother. His owners in the Uttar Pradesh area of India chained, beat, and starved him. Raju fed on scraps of food tossed to him by tourists and even ate plastic and paper to survive. Spiked chains around his legs made moving an excruciating experience and left permanent scars.
This month, Wildlife SOS staged a rescue to give this majestic animal a shot at the abuse-free life he deserves. In an attempt to foil their heroic deed, Raju’s owner pulled the spiked chains around his legs tighter, shouted commands to terrify the elephant, and had people block access to the road.
“We stood our ground and refused to back down—and as we did so, tears began to roll down Raju’s face,” Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan said. After hours of coaxing, Raju—whose trust in humans was understandably depleted—was loaded onto the rescuers’ truck and on his way to freedom.
Today, Raju is chain-free and lives with his adoptive family in a safe enclosure. He enjoys bananas, jackfruit, and cold showers—and of course, glorious freedom. To learn more about how to help Raju, click here.