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HC Orders Sunder’s Release to a Sanctuary

Written by PETA

Posted 04-07-2014, 01:00 PM | 501 Comments

Today, in a landmark judgement, the Honourable Bombay High Court ruled in favour of PETA India by upholding the implementation of the order dated 21 August 2012 that had been passed by the Joint Secretary (Forests), Government of Maharashtra to release the well-known and much-abused young elephant Sunder to a sanctuary.

More than 2.2 lakh people from around the globe wrote to authorities seeking Sunder’s release through action alerts on PETA affiliates’ websites. Celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Pamela Anderson, Arjun Rampal, R Madhavan, Gulshan Grover and many others took to Twitter or helped in other ways with the campaign for his release.

The court allowed the writ petition filed by PETA and dismissed the appeal filed by the Member of Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore, who had given Sunder as a “gift” to the Jyotiba temple in Kolhapur. The court also refused to stay its order, even though the senior counsel representing Kore requested as much. PETA was represented in the matter by Senior Counsel Shiraz Rustomjee and Counsel Rohan Rajadhyaksha, who were instructed by K Ashar & Co. Advocates & Solicitors, which was on record for PETA. Sunder is now slated to be transferred to the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC) in Bangalore.

The Jyotiba temple came into possession of Sunder in 2007, but after constant chaining and beatings came to light, Maharashtra Minister of Forests Dr Patangrao Kadam and the Project Elephant division of the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued orders for Sunder’s release to a sanctuary on 21 August 2012 and 9 November 2012, respectively. However, those orders were never carried out, and Sunder was then spirited away at the behest of Kore and hidden in an old poultry shed, where he remained in chains. In December 2013, PETA obtained video footage showing that his mahout was violently beating him, and veterinarians and elephant experts who examined Sunder found him scarred, wounded and chained so tightly that he couldn’t lie down.

PETA India is now calling on Maharashtra Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Sarjan Bhagat to implement the court’s order quickly, before Sunder can be harmed again.

The campaign for his release spanned 21 months, as people in India and around the world worked to save him from his abusers. PETA thanks everyone who sent letters to authorities calling for his release and who helped with the campaign in other ways. PETA will keep working until Sunder is safe and happy in his new home.

Commenting is closed.
  • Keith Jamieson

    please release this elephant now and put an end to it’s suffering

  • Anurag Bhati

    It is really nice to hear that Sunder’s future will no more be a threat and he will be living happily ever after. My sincere thanks to each and every person who made a difference in any small-big ways. Kudos guys, another proof of existence of humanity.

  • Nikki Gray

    Thank you PETA for your tireless efforts for Sunder! This poor elephant has suffered so much!

  • Elisha (NYC)

    So happy to hear the news today! This is such a huge victory and hopefully will have an impact on all temple elephants. Thank you!

  • M Boylan is under development in the U.S. I praise you Peta India and shall support you. I will proceed with my plans until Sunder is free and then change the site to reflect other tortured elephants at various temples. You are miracle workers. Thank you so much.

  • Ann Marchant

    this is shocking ,this poor animal,needs sorting out now!

  • Liberty

    When will he get to this Sanctuary???? As soon as possible I hope. free him. Please

  • Kim Petersen

    Peta India…Thank you for fighting for Sunder. Will Sunder now be moved to a safe location before he is moved to the sanctuary? Please email me so my heart can rest. Thank you.

  • Bryndís Bjarnadóttir

    I am so glad that Sunder is now finally, hopefully gonna experience good life. But I am curious to know if those men who abused him so severely will ever be brought to justice ? They will not stop with Sunder… They will keep abusing other animals…

  • T.Withagen

    Can you send me an email when this elephant arrives in the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Bangalore ?

  • Michelle Eppleston

    I cried tears of joy when I heard this fantastic news :,) I hope Sunder will enjoy a wonderful new life in his new home. Let us hope it is carried out very soon. The people who did these terrible things to him should be punished… Is this going to happen?

  • Paula

    we want sunder in a sacristy NOW and not false promises

  • Mark

    Thank goodness – I have prayed so hard for Sunder and have carried the weight of his abuse with me since hearing of his suffering. Praying hard for the completion of his release to WRRC. Thank you PETA for working so hard for Sunder. I will make a donation to PETA in Sunder’s name. Thank you Sunder for hanging in there. We Love You!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Debbie Godschalk

    So happy! Just can never understand what is in people that turn them in to monsters? How can anybody harm any animal is beyond my understanding! Just so thankful for PETA and ALL the people who stand up for these voiceless Animals. NEVER BE SILENT!

  • Debbie Godschalk

    So happy! Just can never understand what is in people that turn them in to monsters? How can anybody harm any animal is beyond my understanding! Just so thankful for PETA and ALL the people who stand up for these voiceless Animals. NEVER BE SILENT!

  • Debbie Godschalk

    So happy! Just can never understand what is in people that turn them in to monsters? How can anybody harm any animal is beyond my understanding! Just so thankful for PETA and ALL the people who stand up for these voiceless Animals. NEVER BE SILENT!

  • Debbie Godschalk

    So happy! Just can never understand what is in people that turn them in to monsters? How can anybody harm any animal is beyond my understanding! Just so thankful for PETA and ALL the people who stand up for these voiceless Animals. NEVER BE SILENT!

  • Jennifer

    thank you so much for fighting so hard for Sunder’s freedom. Your dedication to this cause has resulted in such a victorious result. This was such a heartbreaking story that broke hearts all around the world. Thanks to your committment, Sunder will finally get the sanctuary he deserves. Thank you again for all your work!

  • Desiree St. Paul

    Thank you to everyone who campaigned for the freedom of this beautiful creature of God. God is Great. Thank you, GOD!!!!!!!

  • Jasmine

    Thanks.. I would like to help Sunder in any way. Please email me with details.

  • Hennie Bezuidenhout

    I do not know who to thank but I thank everyone involved.This is a great relief to know that SUNDER will be relieved from the torture and abuse he suffered. Thanks everyone involved!

  • Jennifer Oates

    I cannot put into words how happy I feel right now after reading the beautiful Sunder is finally going to be loved, cared for and free from misery and pain!! My heart is singing :-)

  • Ine

    Please let animals free !!

  • Sian Richards

    must end

  • Hilda Cameron

    I am so glad Sunders nightmare is over I long to see a photograph of him just being an elephant and in with a herd that he can roam about freely with Thank you PETA and all the good people who wrote /e-mailed and supported his release

  • Cynthia Campbell

    Thank You to all of you who tirelessly worked hard to help save and free Sunders from cruelty.

  • Rahul

    Three cheers for Sunder and everyone who rooted for his release!

  • Jean

    i won’t be celebrating until this poor creature is out of the clutches of these evil people and safe in his santuary. please keep us up to date about when or if this happens. thanks to everyone who helped this beautful elephant. will there be any punishment handed out to this poor things torturers? jean martin, ireland.

  • Sabine Gaus

    No words..:-(

  • Gaurav

    Thank you guys for putting up the fight for Sunder. I hope he is transferred to the sanctuary immediately before any other hindrance pops up.

  • D

    This is the absolute BEST news I have heard…almost EVER! Thank You Thank You PETA, once again for taking the reigns on an otherwise helpless situation and turning it around! We all worked hard on this one!

  • Lorraine Finnegan

    Please have compassion for this dear animal! The world is watching and waiting for the people of India to show their beautiful spiritual side and not a cruel, material,heartless side. Please free this animal and all like Sunder!

  • June Hale

    Please release Sunder!

  • Sujatha Kumar

    YaaaY!!!! I am so happy for Sunderboy. Feel like jumping and dancin g for him! Thank you Peta for not letting down your effort till Sunder’s release was ensured. and thanks for the many many people who took the trouble and risk and effort of bringing Sunder’s plight to the notice of the world!

  • Kristine


  • Laurie Amos

    Thank God! Now I will fully believe if when Sunder is actually there in sanctuary. Thank you everyone who participated and dedicated their time to Help this creature.

  • Chris Ewing

    awesome news and more should be freed, the animals are NOT our slaves, we are supposed to make sure THEY are allowed to stay FREE!! love this news!! and THANK YOU courts for siding with what is right!!!

  • Jo Smith

    This is WONDERFUL news. So proud to have been part of the fight. I look forward to seeing Sunder in his sanctuary. Well done PETA and your legal team. Thank you for seeing this through.

  • Fiona Henderson

    Please get Sunder to safety ASAP! This should not happen to any animal!

  • Regula Hess

    il faut sauver les éléphants urgent please urgent

  • Priya M

    This is such great news and there are so many of us around the world who are shedding tears of joy!! Sunder needs and deserves this, and so do all the other elephants trapped in temples who endure so much pain and abuse. Please keep us updated on Sunder in the sanctuary, and thank you so much to PETA India and everybt for all they have done for Sunder. Sunder, I know you will always remember what you’ve been through, but hopefully now you will remember more happiness , freedom and love x x x

  • Sheila Desai

    Hats of PETA. Thank you for your wonderful work.

  • Lynn

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to everyone that made this happen. I sure hope it really does; and I hope it sets a precedence for ALL other elephants living in India in conditions like Sunder.

  • Jackie Fitzgerald

    This is wonderful news indeed! A massive well done to Peta India and all the many other warriors who worked tirelessly for Sunders freedom! Looking forward to seeing Sunder in his free, unchained, non violent new home soon!

  • Henn Bea

    This is excellent .Thank you PETA and everyone who has come together to help get Sunder freed. Does this mean that there cannot be any appeal from Kore,to overturn the HC decision,?

  • Sue Barker

    such fantastic news xxx

  • Nicky

    yayyy!!!!!!!!!! well done everyone for getting this poor baby out of this hell hole

  • Sharon

    I have prayed daily God would set Sunder free. Thank you PETA for standing firm and all the people around the world for supporting Sunder’s freedom. Also, I thank the High Court for making this ruling, but PLEASE get Sunder moved ASAP. THANK YOU

  • Lizette Maas.

    Thabk God..they are sending him to a sanctuary…I’m so gratefull.. Lets hope he can go there very soon and he will finaly be safe and have a nice live without fear or abuse. .

  • Jane Poretsis



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