Raju the elephant had been chained in captivity for 50 years — his whole life — until wildlife experts, vets, police and 20 Forestry Commission officers set him free.
While on the cusp of freedom, Raju became so happy that he cried.
During a potentially dangerous night-time operation Wednesday night, rescuers saved Raju from a farm in India’s Uttar Pradesh region where Raju had been repeatedly abused and beaten by his owners.
After the rescuers freed Raju from captivity, tears poured down his face. He realized that his 50 year captivity was finally over.
As a baby calf, Raju was reportedly taken from his mother and passed around among 27 owners who constantly used him as a prop to beg for money.
Pooja Binepal of rescue team Wildlife SOS-UK said,
Raju was in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty.
The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was incredibly emotional. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed.
The rescuers finally took action a year after Utter Pradesh Forest Department reported Raju’s condition to Wilflife SOS-UK.
Raju’s owner continually refused to give up the elephant, but after deciding that Raju had been tortured for long enough, rescuers embarked on a Wednesday night sneak attack.