Cruel Former Owner of Raju the Elephant Vows to Put Him Back in Chains

Just when the future seemed forever bright for Raju, the “crying elephant,” a specter looms that might take his happiness away again.

Care2 members will remember Raju’s sad story. He lived a life of abject misery, spending 50 long years with a series of up to 27 different owners who starved him, beat him and kept him in chains.

Raju’s last owner, an alleged drug dealer and addict, forced him to wear painful spiked metal shackles on his legs. He controlled him by poking him with a sharp spear, using Raju to beg for money from tourists. Raju never had enough to eat, sometimes consuming things like plastic and paper to stay alive.

To see Raju’s story, watch this video:

The group Wildlife SOS found out what was going on and worked for a year behind the scenes to get Raju away from his captor. The group staged a dramatic midnight rescue on July 4, 2014. Armed with judicial pre-approval, Wildlife SOS’s ten veterinarians and wildlife experts, two police officers and 20 Forestry Commission officers moved in and confiscated Raju.

Reports say Raju wept a tear of joy as rescuers cut his chains from his poor, abscessed legs.

A Healthy, Happy Life with Other Elephant Friends

Since his rescue, Raju has been living peacefully at Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India. He’s now a member of a group of rescued elephants known as the Herd of Hope.

“He had been so terribly brutalized for 50 years that we feared he’d be unable to live with his own kind,” Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan told The Daily Mail. “He didn’t even know how to be an elephant. But now it’s like he’s always been with them.”

Raju now bathes in a pool whenever he wishes. He gets his fill of nourishing food and the medical care he needs to recover. Best of all, he lives with other elephants. It’s perhaps the first time in his life that he has companionship and loving care. He’s obviously much happier than he’s ever been, as evidenced by this photo:

raju the elephant eating at his sanctuary

A Legal Challenge May Spell Doom for Raju

Shockingly, Raju’s good fortune may be poised to go sour. His former owner, the alleged drug dealer, wants him back. He’s taking his claim to India’s court system, asserting that Raju is his property and must be returned.

“Raju was treated with such appalling cruelty and torture,” Satyanarayan told The Mirror. “We will argue that the owner broke wildlife protection and animal cruelty laws and that Raju was being kept illegally. We want this case to set a precedent across India to change the way elephants are treated.”

Raju isn’t the only elephant at the sanctuary that is imperiled by legal action. Laxmi, a female elephant who suffered much the same type of cruelty as Raju, is also facing a legal demand that she be returned to her abusive former “owner.”

“After all he has been through, we still have to fight for his freedom,” lamented Satyanarayan to the Times of India. “We hope the honorable court will grant him justice. He has been treated with such appalling cruelty by his former owner, who has no legal claim on him under wildlife laws.”

Animal care experts agree that Raju simply cannot return to his former life, pictured below.

raju in bondage, used for begging from tourists

“Raju still needs years of treatment, he has physical and psychological wounds. The thought that he may have to leave all this behind if his owner gets his way is heart-breaking,” Yaduraj Khadpekar, the veterinarian who is treating Raju, told the Times of India. “We want him to spend the rest of his life with some dignity, free from suffering and pain.”

Wildlife SOS Will Mount a Legal Defense to Save Raju

Wildlife SOS is doing everything it can to mount a successful legal defense for Raju and Laxmi. An aggressive fundraising effort is underway to enable the group to do what must be done to keep their rescued elephants free. A hearing on Raju’s case, originally scheduled for Sept. 4, has been delayed by a week. Wildlife SOS says on its Facebook page:

Raju’s case has been delayed, it will not be heard until September 11. We want you to know that we are feeling very confident and optimistic of the outcome. The few extra days allows us to be even more prepared and bring even more attention to this injustice.

“Necessary action has been initiated and the law will take its course,” Chief Wildlife Warden of the state Rupak De told the Times of India. “Raju is in safe hands with Wildlife SOS. The forest department will make sure justice prevails.”

raju and laxmi, rescued elephants

Raju and Laxmi, happy and comfortable in their sanctuary.

Oh, let that be true. May India’s justice system see clearly that the man who once kept Raju in chains as an emaciated and broken animal is not entitled in any way to regain control of this poor creature. Raju must remain in the care of Wildlife SOS. Instead, this former “owner” must be prosecuted for animal cruelty. Indeed, Indian authorities reportedly have filed a criminal case against this man.

If you agree and want to lend your voice to this cause, please sign this petition. It will go to the Chief Minister of India’s Supreme Court, asking him not to find in favor of the abuser who wants to enslave Raju again. Let the Indian court system know the world cares about what happens to Raju.

Raju must live protected and happy with others of his kind. Anything less is unacceptable — and unthinkable.

Photo credit (all images): Wildlife SOS Facebook page


hELEN h6 months ago

tyfs. I have given money to Wildlife SOS to help with their legal costs to save Raju. I so hope they win.

Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jeannet Adores Animals

His owner must shut his mouth .

Florence Lim
Florence Lim4 years ago

Can anyone provide an update to the legal proceedings for Raju

Florence Lim
Florence Lim4 years ago

Can anyone provide an update to the legal proceedings for Raju

Florence Lim
Florence Lim4 years ago

Can anyone provide an update to the legal proceedings for Raju

Marion Friedl
Marion Friedl4 years ago

Poor Raju, I hope the peti I just signed will succeed and you´ll be allowed to move to an elephant sanctuary, like Nosey did!

Axa T.
Axa T4 years ago

How can a drug dealer ask Raju back?

Clare Gorman
Clare Gorman4 years ago

I can't even put into words how hopeless and angry this makes me feel. That poor baby :(

Nancy Or
Nancy O4 years ago

If a judge returns Raju back to his former owner knowing dam right well he will be chained again for life and neglected and abused and begging then this judge needs to step down. Keeping my fingers crossed that Raju remains free and the judge uses his head and makes the right decision.