Thanks to activists’ efforts, this 70-year-old elephant is free to munch on fruit and greens, take dust baths and enjoy his personal swimming pool.
70-year-old elephant Gajraj hasn’t had the easiest life. For the past 51 years, he has performed duties as a temple elephant in the Satara district of Maharashtra, India. Locals saw him as an icon of worship and he regularly played a role in festivities and temple processions.
While Gajraj was respected because he belonged to the Royal family of Aundh, he still wasn’t cared for properly. This caused him to develop a toenail abscess which could have spread to the bone, in addition to resulting in hip abscesses. Fortunately, he was recently received by the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation NGO Wildlife SOS for his long-term care and medical treatment.
Bored Panda relays that a PETA campaign raised awareness about the elephant’s plight and inspired thousands of people to petition Wildlife SOS to intervene. After conferring with the royal family, Gajraj — whose name translates to “King of Elephants” — finally retired from his duties and was entrusted to the NGO. Gajraj’s injuries made him a candidate to be received for geriatric life time care at Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation & Care Center in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. There, he will live out the remainder of his lifetime in comfort.
Though the royal family gave the elephant a warm farewell, local villagers were less than pleased to see him leave. Reportedly, people began gathering in large numbers and the mob eventually became unruly. A large police force was later deployed to ensure protection for the Wildlife SOS rescue team. Shortly after, Gajraj’s was placed inside the Elephant Ambulance — the only one in India.
After leaving his previous home, Gajraj was transported 1500 kilometers along with a team of veterinarians, paramedics and elephant caretakers. Once Gajraj arrived at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center, he took his time adjusting to the new location. For the first time in years, he walked without chains on his feet.
Now, Gajraj enjoys leisurely days and can often be seen munching on fresh fruits and greens, as well as splashing around in his own personal pool. The veterinarians have also started treating him with daily medicated foot soaks and regularly drain his abscesses. Because Gajraj is fed a special diet and receives nutritional supplements, he should recover in no time at all.
Gajraj at Aundh before his rescue
The beautiful creature was kept in chains
Due to neglect, he developed a toenail abscess which required immediate medical attention
When he was rescued by Wildlife SOS, a mob formed around the ambulance
Gajraj entering the Wildlife SOS Elephant Ambulance
Wildlife SOS staff eagerly awaited Gajraj’s arrival
The 70-year-old taking his first steps of freedom
Gajraj taking a dust bath in his new home
Watch the video below:
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