Rescued Circus Elephant Is Finally Reunited With Her ‘Family’

For almost 53 years of her life, Rhea had known nothing but a life of exploitation. But now, thanks to her rescuers, her abusive past is behind her and she will live out her days in freedom with the only family she’s ever known.

According to Wildlife SOS, the organization responsible for securing her freedom, Rhea spent nearly her entire life as a circus elephant. She was likely taken from her family in the wild as a baby, before she was forced to endure a brutal training regime that would turn her into a performer. She would spend her life confined by ropes and heavy chains, and it would take a toll on her. The organization wrote in an update about her past:

Her time in the circus has left Rhea riddled with ailments. Her feet are in atrocious conditions, with deep painful cracks running through her swollen soles. Her nails are cracked and her cuticles overgrown, testament to the neglect she has been subjected to all these years. She walks awkwardly, with a slight limp, and we are suspicious of more serious wounds or problems that can only be diagnosed once she is in our care at the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, Mathura.

Her rescuers hope she took comfort in the company of two other female elephants, Mia and Sita, who were the only family she had.

Sadly for Rhea, at the end of last year Mia and Sita were rescued, but the crushing decision had to be made to leave Rhea behind. Wildlife SOS explained in an update that it wasn’t just a lack of permission to take her that held up her rescue, her owner was considering giving her as a gift to a temple – a decision that would result in her spending the rest of her life in equally poor conditions.

While she wasn’t taken along with her two sisters, her rescuers didn’t give up on their efforts to secure her freedom and their determination has finally paid off. Last week, she was loaded onto Wildlife SOS’ elephant ambulance to begin the long journey to her new home.

Freedom awaits!

Posted by Wildlife S.O.S on Friday, April 15, 2016

Now, her rescuers and supporters are celebrating her safe arrival. The bells she wore around her neck have been removed as a symbolic gesture of her freedom, and she has been reunited with Mia and Sita.

While this rescue means that these three will live out their days in comfort and safety getting the love and care they deserve, Wildlife SOS points out that there are still many other elephants waiting for help.

That help may come for some in the form of desperately needed rescue, but hopefully for future generations relief will come from humans seeing them not as something to be used, but as highly intelligent and social beings who deserve far more protection and respect.

For more info on Rhea and how to help others like her, check out Wildlife SOS.

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Photo credit: WIldlifeSOS/Youtube


Mari S
Mari S4 months ago

Beautiful -- thank God -- thank you to the wonderful Rescuers who would NOT give up on Rhea.

William C
William C5 months ago


W. C
W. C5 months ago

Thank you.

Elisa F
Elisa F7 months ago

Thanks for story on Rhea...blessings to her :)

william Miller
william Millerabout a year ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

lynda l.
lynda l1 years ago

Relief will come from humans seeing them not as something to be used, but as highly intelligent and social beings who deserve far more protection and respect.

Read more:

federico bortoletto

Bella notizia!!

Amanda Pearson
Amanda Pearson1 years ago

well done.

Elaine W.
Past Member 1 years ago

Reunited family is a happy new beginning!