Gajraj the elephant – who was taken from his family more than 50 years ago, when he was just 12, but spent his final years receiving the care and attention he desperately needed at Wildlife SOS – has died. Like so many other elephants chained in temples and tourist areas, he knew nothing but pain and misery for most of his life, before PETA India fought for his release.
Throughout India, elephants have spent decades chained in temples or for tourist rides or circuses. Inspections of places around the country keeping these majestic animals captive have documented one horror story after another: infected wounds, illnesses such as tuberculosis, and severe maltreatment. Some captive elephants are partially or completely blind.
Often chained by all four legs, the elephants are forced to live on concrete in often sweltering heat and with little food or water. Chains are painful, and the animals often develop chafing wounds and pressure sores that can become infected. Some of the chains are spiked.
Denying elephants opportunities to walk vast distances every day often leads to severe physical infirmity and mental deterioration. Constant chaining and lack of social engagement drives many of them insane, and they express their immense frustration through repetitive swaying, rocking, and head-bobbing.
Like Gajraj, an elephant named Lakshmi was just a youngster when a temple in Puducherry began chaining her. For the last two decades, she’s been forced to stand chained in the same cramped space on concrete. She developed painful foot rot on all four feet and wounds on her body from constantly rubbing against chains and other hard surfaces.
Officials recently moved her to a different location outside the city, but that doesn’t go far enough: she deserves a peaceful retirement. Please help make that happen by requesting that she be relocated to a suitable sanctuary permanently – one where she can receive veterinary care and live unchained in the company of other elephants.