There is no question that the world is full of amazing and unique animals. One such animal that is truly larger than life is the elephant. While the elephant's size is enough to make people stop and take notice, it is their need for community and their capacity for love and compassion that is truly awe inspiring. For one elephant named Raju, love and compassion were foreign concepts for most of his life. Luckily, rescuers were determined to turn Raju's pain and hurt into joy and happiness.
Raju was captured from the wild when he just a young calf. He was immediately put in chains and trained to be a "begging" elephant, which meant he was used for entertainment purposes in order to gain profit. Raju was treated very poorly, often being beaten when he failed to learn a new trick. To make matters more complicated, Raju changed owners 27 times over his life.
Each time ownership would change, Raju was forced to relearn how to live. For 50 years Raju lived a life unbefitting of any animal, especially a large elephant like himself. Rescuers, however, caught up with Raju and his owners and were determined to free the elephant from his bondage.
In the dead of night on July 4th, 2014, rescuers went to where Raju was being held and set to work and removed his bonds. Raju was bound with heavy chains which had spikes on them so the rescuers had to work carefully and quietly so that they were not discovered and, also, to keep from hurting Raju. When the elephant realized that the people around him had come to set him free, the elephant shed tears of pure joy.
The rescuers immediately took Raju to their sanctuary to begin treatment and to introduce him to a life of freedom. Raju was, obviously, very apprehensive of any human contact because of his abusive past but his rescuers were patient and loving every single day. Slowly but surely, Raju started to trust people again. Raju was finally able to let his guard down and let people in for the first time in 50 years.
Raju underwent treatment to repair his severely injured knee and, after a few months, was able to take his first pain-free steps in many years. Raju slowly gained weight and was soon the proper size of a full grown bull elephant. With his strength back and his faith in humans restored, Raju lived every day with a smile on his face, good food in his belly, and love in his heart.
Because of the love and determination of his rescuers, Raju finally knew what love and compassion really meant. With the memory of chains wiped away by his new freedom, Raju was finally able to live the life he always deserved to live. Pain-free. Chain free. Free forever! Watch the video below to see Raju's incredible journey.
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