Originally published on September 12, 2014, at ForceChange.com
Target: Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
Goal: Prevent freed elephant from returning to his abusive former owner
Raju the elephant wept after activists removed the chains that had been wrapped around his legs for the past 50 years. They transported Raju to Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Center where he has been living with five female elephants for the last two months. Claiming that Raju is his property, the abusive former owner has launched a legal battle to repossess the liberated elephant. The Indian government must show compassion and never allow Raju to be placed in chains again.
Raju had been a calf in the wild when poachers captured him decades ago. After shackling his legs, Raju’s owners beat him until he learned to submit to them. Each time he was sold to a new master, they would beat Raju to break his spirit and exert their dominance over him. Malnourished and with no shelter at night, Raju began eating discarded paper and plastic in order to survive.
In July, 10 wildlife experts from Wildlife SOS along with 20 Forest Department and Police officers rescued Raju from captivity. They transported him to a safe environment where he is learning to socialize with other elephants again. Suffering from a serious limp and open wounds, Raju also bears psychological wounds after 50 years of mistreatment. Hesitant to socialize at first, Raju arrived at the conservation greeted by the other elephants gently touching him with their trunks.
By signing the petition below, you will urge the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to protect Raju and prevent him from being returned to an owner who abused and neglected him.
Dear Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
You cannot allow the Indian government to force Raju the elephant back into the captivity of an owner who commits animal cruelty. It took his rescuers 45 minutes to free Raju from the chains that were biting into his flesh. After the shackles that had held him prisoner for 50 years had been removed, Raju wept with joy.
At Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Conservation and Care Center, Raju is healing from his wounds and learning to socialize with other elephants again. If your government forces him back into the arms of his abusive owner, you will be sending a message to other owners endorsing cruelty to animals. Instead of considering the former owner’s claims, you should charge him with animal cruelty and neglect. Your government has the power to allow Raju to live out his days in peace or shackled in chains. What will you choose?
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Vinoth Chandar via Wikimedia Commons