An Elephant Cried Tears Of Joy After Being Rescued From 50 Years Of Chained Brutality

All Raju the elephant knew was pain and suffering inflicted by human beings. Now, nearly fifty years after being poached in India, he is free. (WARNING: graphic images.)

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This is Raju, an elephant living in India. Until now, he survived off handouts from passing tourists and at times eating plastic and paper to fill his empty stomach.

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It is said that Raju lived in a pitiable state. He was beaten, abused and kept in spiked shackles that made him bleed.

But thankfully after 50 years of being held in chains, beaten, and abused, Raju has been saved by a charity in a daring midnight rescue operation

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The dangerous rescue was carried out at night to protect the elephant from heat. But, after how Raju had been traumatised by his owners, it was hard to gain his trust at first.

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After several hours of giving Raju fruits and encouragement, he was able to get loaded onto the truck. On Thursday at midnight in the Uttar Pradesh area of India, North London-based charity Wildlife SOS freed Raju in an operation that moved Raju the elephant to tears.

Here, Raju is seen crying after being rescued:

The team says they saw tears roll down the elephant's eyes in a mission that was a very emotional one for them as well.
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Elephants have a huge hippocampus, a brain structure in the limbic system of the brain that’s important for processing emotions. Elephants are deeply emotional and intelligent and exhibit a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, self-awareness, memory, and language.

The charity's U.K. spokeswoman Pooja Binepalm whose team was astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue, said:

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“It was so incredibly emotional for all of us. We knew in our hearts he realised he was being freed.” Pooja explained that they believed he was poached. “The poachers either slaughter the mother, or they drive the herd into traps that are small enough only for the babies to fall into. The mother cries for her baby for days after he’s been stolen — it is a sickening trade.”

The rescue team was worried that Raju's owner would flee. Raju's owner even tried to prevent the rescue, shouting commands to terrify Raju.

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Raju, believed to have been snatched from his mom as a young calf, is thought to have had 27 owners —and was being used as a "beggars' prop" from dawn until dusk. The rescue mission took place a year to the day after the charity had been alerted to Raju's plight by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.

A court order allowed rescuers to seize the giant animal, but Raju's owner refused to give him up. Deciding enough was enough, and seeing the terrible suffering that the elephant was enduring, rescuers approached Wednesday night with a truck.

But the rescue team didn't give up. Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan said:

“We stood our ground and refused to back down — and as we did so, tears began to roll down Raju’s face.” He added: “Some tears no doubt were due to the pain being inflicted by the chains, but he also seemed to sense that change was coming. It was as if he felt hope for the first time in a very long time.”
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Raju stepped out of the truck and took his first step to freedom at one minute past midnight on July 4 (America's Independence Day), which Katrick said "felt so extraordinarily fitting"

Raju was finally freed from half a century of captivity

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Raju is currently spending a week in isolation so he can receive emergency medical attention. After that he will spend the rest of his life free from of pain and suffering.

Raju receiving emergency medical attention to his wounds

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Raju receiving bath and food at the sanctuary

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The charity, founded in India in 1995, is appealing for USD17,000 of donations to help start Raju's new life

Raju is roaming free for the first time at the sanctuary

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To donate, visit, or cheques or postal orders orders to: Wildlife SOS, 483 Green Lanes, London, N13 4BS.

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