Jill Layton
July 08, 2014 9:27 am

This story has an ultimately happy ending, but first strap yourself in for a real emotional roller-coaster. Serious feels up ahead.

An elephant named Raju was rescued in India on Thursday after being held captive for 50 years. As a baby, Raju was poached from the wild and taken away from his mother and his family. He survived by eating handouts from tourists and plastic and paper he found on the ground. He had chains and spikes around his legs that caused chronic wounds and arthritis, leaving him in constant pain.

Raju is now free for the first time since he was a baby, thanks to the brave and daring efforts by the charity organization, Wildlife SOS. The conservationists were given a court order by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department to rescue Raju from his abusive captor. They rescued the scared elephant in the middle of the night, and were assisted by police and state officials. Raju’s owner attempted to stop the rescue by adding more chains to his legs and having people block the roads, but fortunately for Raju, the attempts failed.

As he was being rescued, the abusive owner shouted commands at Raju, trying to get him to charge. But the rescuer workers stood their ground, and that’s when Raju began to cry. Pooja Binepal from Wildlife SOS said, “The team was astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was so incredibly emotional for all of us. We knew in our hearts he realized he was being freed.” He added, “Elephants are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals who have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what torture half a century has been like for him.”

The charity’s co-founder, Katrick Satyanarayan added about his tears, “Some no doubt were due to the pain being inflicted by the chains, but he also seemed to sense that change was coming. It was as if he felt hope for the first time in a very long time.”

This video shows the rescue workers cutting off Raju’s chains, allowing him to finally be free.

Okay, continue on with your normal day now, and don’t mind the swelling of your heart.

Featured images and video via Independent and Youtube