Sunder, the elephant who was rescued from a life in chains at a temple in Kolhapur, is now enjoying his life chain-free at Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP).
Here’s how it happened:
After Sunder’s rescue, PETA India helped turn BBP into a free-roaming elephant sanctuary on fenced, forested land that allows elephants to move about rather than being chained in place, the way in which captive elephants in India are commonly kept.
A state-of-the-art corral made of steel pipes was also created for emergencies and veterinary care to protect Sunder and his elephant friends, as well as their human guardians. It allows rewards, never punishment, to be the means of communication. The pipes allow treats to be passed through when Sunder responds to commands to help him, such as for foot cleaning.
The corral is also used to secure elephants in musth (a state of sexual urge in male elephants), replacing the chains that are usually used for this purpose in India. During musth, elephants pull at their chains with even greater than usual might, causing huge, deep, painful wounds.
PETA India invited experts Margaret Whittaker and Gail Laule to India to train Sunder on this new system. They’ve been holding workshops for government officials, too.
And they are in India again for another round of training. Sunder’s doing really well, as are some of his other elephant friends. Here is a photo of him with one of his best friends, Lakshmi. See? No chains!