1. Here is an elephant called Raju. Raju lived in India, where he survived off handouts from passing tourists, and sometimes would eat plastic and paper to fill his empty stomach.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Here is Raju crying when he was rescued :(
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.
7. The charity’s U.K. spokeswoman Pooja Binepal said the team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. She added: “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.”
9. The rescue team worried that Raju’s owner would flee. Raju’s owner even tried to prevent the rescue, shouting commands to terrify Raju.
10. 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.”
12. Raju stepped out of the truck and took his first step to freedom at one minute past midnight on July 4, which Katrick said “felt so extraordinarily fitting.”
13. The charity has since launched a campaign to raise £10,000 to begin the start of his new life in a new enclosure that will allow him to roam with his adoptive family.
To donate to Raju and his adoptive family, visit www.wildlifesos.org, or send cheques or postal orders to: Wildlife SOS, 483 Green Lanes, London, N13 4BS.