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Celebrating a decade of freedom: The heartwarming tale of Elephant Raju

Agra July 5

In the heart of India, close to Mathura’s cobbled lanes and bustling markets stands a sanctuary of hope and resilience, which gave a new lease of life to Raju the elephant.

Today, Raju embodies the spirit of elephant conservation in India.

At the Elephant Hospital near Mathura, Raju has become a global symbol of survival, inspiring change and transforming the country’s elephant welfare landscape.

Celebrating a decade of freedom, Raju, now a majestic 60-year-old, symbolises the journey from suffering to sanctuary. His story of exploitation sparked a revolution in how elephants are treated in India.

Rescued in 2014, when nearly 70 elephants still endured the harsh realities of circus life, Raju’s resilience paved the way for a brighter future. Today, elephants are no longer coerced into performing in circuses.

Just a few years ago, the streets of Delhi echoed with the presence of elephants, rented out for weddings and processions. Fast forward to 2019, and these sights became a thing of the past, thanks to the profound impact of individuals like Raju.

By 2019, the last of these elephants, Jasmine, was brought to Wildlife SOS, symbolising a significant shift in the capital’s approach to these gentle giants.

Raju’s rescue shone a harsh light on the grim reality of tourist rides and the accompanying abuse. This revelation strengthened the Wildlife SOS campaign, ‘Refuse To Ride’, which continues to advocate against such cruelty.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, recalled, “The image of tears rolling down Raju’s eyes during his rescue a decade ago is still fresh in our memories. Jumping 10 years ahead, he is now no less than a family member, loved by all — from staff members to caregivers, veterinarians, and visitors.”

Raju’s story is not just about one elephant’s journey from pain to peace; it is a testament to the resilience of all elephants and the unyielding spirit of those who fight for their freedom.

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