You think of an elephant, what comes to mind? Probably their long noses, floppy ears, or big heads. They’re the true kings of the jungle, traveling in packs filled with family members, easily scaring off trouble that comes their way.
When you think of an elephant, you probably don’t always picture a life full of abuse, painful shackles, and never having the freedom to live as an animal should. But unfortunately, that is the only thing that one elephant, Raju, knew to be true. But because of Wildlife SOS India, his story was soon going to be changing.
Click through to read Raju’s incredible journey. You won’t believe the reaction he had once he tasted freedom in slide #3!
#12 Raju Was An Elephant Suffering Immensely
Raju was an elephant from India who was once a free creature. But after being captured as a baby, he was forced into a life full of misery and torture. It’s always tricky to pinpoint the exact past of a rescue animal, but things didn’t look like they had ever been easy for Raju.
#11 He Lived The Life Of A Slave
#10 He Lived In Horrible Conditions
Raju was basically getting little to no medical treatment. Being forced to walk on the rough ground all day long hour after hour caused him to get some pretty bad foot disorders. His nails were overgrown, he had sore and bruised feet, and he needed to see a doctor. So what was Raju’s job anyway?
#9 He Worked For No Money
Raju was a tourist elephant and people would exchange small tips in return for blessings from the elephant. But it is apparent, from his foot conditions, that none of the money he was earning was going towards his care. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the next slide will shock you.
#8 He Knew Nothing But Shackles
When rescuers from Wildlife SOS India first started following around Raju and investigating his past, they learned some news that made it all the more crucial to pull Raju from his owner. They estimated that he had upwards of 25 different owners throughout his lifetime. He was constantly getting passed from one abuser to the next, but things looked bright for Raju’s future.
#7 This Couldn’t Go On Any Longer
#6 The Rescue Wouldn’t Be Easy
The rescuers had to think of a good way to get him free. He wasn’t just a kitten they could slip into their pocket and run away with in the night. People would notice a missing elephant, and they were bound to get caught at some point. But nothing was going to stop them from trying to get Raju to a place he deserved to live.
#5 It Happened In The Middle Of The Night
Rescuers acted as quickly as they could and decided to take Raju in the middle of the night. At first, he was hesitant and scared. Raju didn’t have a good history with humans and he wasn’t about to start trusting anyone. But it seemed as though he knew what was going on and they were able to get him out of his heavy and painful shackles.
#4 The Owner Tried To Stop Them
At one point, the owner did catch up to the rescuers, attempting to put more shackles and chains back on Raju. He even took them to court at one point but lost as he had been keeping Raju illegally anyways. This man who had tortured Raju for so long was also forgetting one big thing….
#3 Raju Had An Owner No More
The most shocking thing to happen during Raju’s rescue was that he had actually started crying.
Actual tears fell down his cheeks as the rescuers removed his chains and took him away from his life of abuse. So what is Raju doing now?
#2 He’s Adjusting To Life As A Free Elephant
At first, Raju was unsure as to what to do with himself. The only thing he knew was living in captivity, little freedom to do anything he wanted. Being abused, he was shy and scared. But rescuers stated that he has since adjusted and that he’s clearly enjoying his new life of freedom.
#1 But He Only Has Upwards To Go
It’s not easy for any creature who has been abused to learn to trust humans again. It can also be difficult to live a normal and happy life, constantly thinking about the abusive past. But Raju knows now that he is safe and that he will never be put back into shackles.
Stories like these are what reminds us that animals are more human than we think. Elephants are interesting and complex creatures. They live as long as humans and care about families and relationships just as much as we do! Raju’s story is, unfortunately, not uncommon.
Elephants face abuse like this daily, but thanks to the rescuers at Wildlife SOS India, the true heroes of the story, Raju is going to be able to live a long and prosperous life. Although he did suffer decades of abuse, his story reminds us that it’s never too late to find freedom and happiness.