By Kate Good
After living for years working as a begging prop on the streets of India, Raju the elephant was finally freed from his chains thanks to the hard work of Wildlife SOS. When news of Raju’s release to their elephant sanctuary was announced, his story touched all of our hearts. Raju spent 50 years in captivity, abused and beaten by his owners who saw him as little more than a money-making prop. However, after working tirelessly to free this miserable elephant, Wildlife SOS was able to secure the release of Raju and he has been living happily at their elephant sanctuary ever since. That is, until his former owner decided to petition the Allahabad High Court for custody of Raju.
Given the history of abuse and neglect that Raju experienced under the care of this cruel human, the thought that he would ever be able to regain custody of Raju seems absolutely absurd. However, when animals are regarded and treated as “property” and not individuals in their own right, all semblance of “justice” can become skewed.
The announcement of Raju’s former owner’s appeal was met with disgust and exasperation from animal rights advocates across the world. Wildlife SOS rallied all the support they could for this poor, old elephant and it appears that all this hard work has finally paid off! The Allahabad High Court officially ruled that Raju should stay free and remain in the care of Wildlife SOS.
Dr. Rupak De, IFS – Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden of Uttar Pradesh State stated in a press release, “The constitution of India speaks of freedom which includes not only people but animals as well. I am very happy and proud that we are able to afford the provision of constitution in letter and spirit. I am also thankful to the Judiciary for supporting a just cause and saving Raju the elephant. ”
We could not be more pleased to report this happy news. After seeing Raju thrive and finally start to recover from the lifetime of abuse he had been forced to endure, the thought that he might have to return to working on the streets simply broke our hearts. Now Raju is officially free of the threat from his former owner and can carry on learning what it means to be an elephant.
Enjoy your freedom Raju!