Gajraj the ailing elephant’s misery has come to an end, and he has arrived at his new home! He was rescued after being chained for 51 years near the popular tourist spots in India, and he’s now enjoying life at the Elephant Conservation and Care Center (ECCC) in Mathura, India. Here’s the full story of his journey to safety:
1. In 1965, at 12 years of age, Gajraj was taken from his family and illegally transported from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra to be presented to the Rani of Aundh as a wedding gift.
2. For 51 years, he was used as a tourist attraction, and with the exception of occasional walks through the village, he was forced to stand in the same spot, chained by all four legs, all alone.
3. His tusks were hacked off, and he swayed and bobbed his head, deeply depressed.
4. When he became too old and sick to be used to beg for money, he was left to suffer in agony.
5. When PETA India learned of his situation, they began a #FreeGajraj campaign, which quickly garnered worldwide attention, and more than 200,000 supporters signed a petition demanding his freedom.
— PETA Asia (@PETAAsia) May 23, 2017
6.The campaign was also supported by numerous kind celebrities – including Jacqueline Fernandez, Athiya Shetty, Suniel Shetty, Sunny Leone, Sidharth Malhotra, and Sonakshi Sinha – who all shared information about his plight on social media.
— Jacqueline Fernandez (@Asli_Jacqueline) April 14, 2017
7. In June 2017, the Maharashtra Forest Department made the decision to rescue ailing Gajraj.
8. During the rescue, hundreds of local villagers at first protested against freeing him, but once the rescuers convinced them that he would have a better life at a sanctuary, they bid him farewell with their blessing.
9. He was loaded onto a Wildlife SOS truck to be transported to Mathura.
10. After the three-day journey, he finally reached his new home at the ECCC – a collaborative project of Wildlife SOS and the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department.
Watch Gajraj’s journey to freedom and safety:
PETA India arranged for the ECCC to take him in and has paid to build his new home. Finally, at age 63, he will be able to live out his life in a natural setting, where he can just be an elephant. For the first time in more than half a century, he’ll be allowed to walk freely, bathe in pools, and enjoy the company of other elephants. He will have time to heal from his physical and emotional wounds. Wishing you a peaceful retirement, Gajraj!
Mali, a female elephant at the Manila Zoo in the Philippines, still needs your help. She has spent 40 years pacing the same concrete area over and over again, and most of that time in solitary confinement. In the wild, elephants such as Mali would spend their days in the company of their herd—which they’d never leave—foraging, bathing and playing in rivers, and roaming vast territories. Placing these intelligent and complex individuals in conditions that are harmful to them, just so that humans can gawk at them, teaches visitors nothing.
Please help Mali get the life that she deserves. Urge the Philippine government to allow her to be transferred to a sanctuary where she can be free and live happily.