Raju the elephant kept in chains for 50 years cries after rescue

For almost all of his 50 years, Raju the elephant has been kept in captivity as a working pachyderm, starved and used as a “begging elephant.”

The rescue organization Wildlife SOS conducted a daring rescue of Raju on July 4th (appropriately, Independence Day in the U.S.!) and getting him away from the villainous owner who kept him chained up and worn out.

The rescuers believe Raju was probably born in the wild almost 50 years ago and when he was just a baby, caught and sent to live his life as a working elephant.  He has spent almost 50 years in chains and most likely would have died never known freedom, forced to eat paper and plastic.

What has captured worldwide attention was the response from Raju after his chains were removed. His rescuers, including veterinarian Dr. Yaduraj were astounded when the elephant began crying as his spiked chains were removed. Wildlife SOS rescuer Pooja Binepal says: 

The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was so incredibly emotional for all of us. 

We knew in our hearts he realised he was being freed.

Elephants are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals, who have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what torture half a century has been like for him.”

People would give the mahout tips in exchange for ‘blessings’ by Raju.  Most of the food he got was inappropriate for an elephant.  However, half starving, Raju would eat almost anything

Raju’s rescue mission began on the night of July 2.  His mahout and previous owner were non-cooperative and made things very difficult to rescue Raju.  

They put more chains on him and pulled the spikes tighter and then had people blocking the roads leading to the rescue truck.

Raju’s life of 50 years begging all day in the hot heat with very little to eat was taking a terrible toll on him.  He appeared exhausted and worn down.

Wildlife SOS worked with the U.P. Forest Department in India to get the permissions to have him transferred to a sanctuary.raju30

After Raju had been traumatized by his owners, rescuers worked hard to gain his trust.  After several hours of giving Raju fruits and encouragement, he was able to get loaded onto the truck.

Kartick Satyanarayan, the charity’s co-founder, said the mahout tried to make the elephant charge by shouting commands.

We stood our ground and refused to back down – and as we did so, tears began to roll down Raju’s face.

Some 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.”

We’ll give you an update on Raju’s move to his sanctuary and how he’s doing now.

h/t: Wildlife SOS



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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers


  1. I think I’m the lone contrarian on this story that’s made the rounds on Facebook and social media.
    But what evidence has been provided that this elephant was crying? Also, if tears do stream down an animal’s face what is the evidence that this is an emotional response? Sorry to be an animal scrooge, but these kind of stories demand more facts.

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