A former temple elephant was rescued on the 21st of December, after years of living in painful shackles and with various injuries.
For decades, a one-eared elephant named Suraj has been living in spiked shackles in a dark, dank room. As of December 21st, 2015, however, thanks to the daring efforts of Wildlife SOS India, Suraj is finally free.
One Green Planet reports that Suraj was first discovered by the animal rights organization in an unsightly state. He was standing in his own feces and urine, heavy chains were wrapped around his legs, and when a veterinarian examined his wounds, they discovered bullhook injuries in his forehead, a lice and tick infestation, and cracked and painful toenails. Unfortunately, the list of maladies doesn’t end there… Suraj also was experiencing foot rot, had an infection in both eyes, and was even suffering from a severe injury to the tip of his tail.
He had been existing in the same sad room for years, and at one point even had an ear ripped off.
We think it can be agreed that no one – animal or human – should have to endure such horrid treatment.
No one knows how Suraj lost his ear, but it is speculated that he suffered the abuse when he was captured from the wild as a baby and was separated from his mother and herd.
Thankfully, that all changed just before Christmas. The elephant, whose name means “Sunshine,” escaped the abuse during a daring midnight rescue by Wildlife SOS India.
It was disclosed in a press release that this was the organization’s most dangerous mission yet, as the team was met by a mob of more than 200 people attempting to keep the elephant confined. The risk was worth it, however.
The 20-member crew was accompanied by a contingent of 70 police officers and forest department officials for back up. After a 10-hour face-off, the organization was finally able to reach a negotiation.
Suraj was coaxed onto a specially-designed ambulance with aid from members with the SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center. The former temple elephant was then driven into the night scored by several police vehicles.
Four days later, after traveling 1500 kilometers, the team arrived at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura, Suraj’s new home…
This is the first time Wildlife SOS India rescued an elephant from a temple. According to Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS:
“Asian elephants in captivity have been captured from the wild. Sadly although they are worshipped in temples throughout the country, they are housed in pathetic conditions in ignorance of their complex physical, psychological and social requirements. As temple elephants go, Suraj’s condition was in violation of several guidelines and laws in India. We hope that his rescue will shed some light on the plight of temple elephants in India. It is time for us to treat the heritage animal of India with more dignity and respect.”
Over the past six years, the organization has rescued twenty-two elephants. If you’d like to support the Wildlife SOS India’s efforts so more elephant can experience the freedom they deserve, be sure to visit the organization’s website, and consider making a donation to support their efforts.
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