Free Elephant Gajraj Now

Near the popular Indian tourist spots Shri Bhavani Museum and Yamai Devi temple in Aundh, Maharashtra, 63-year-old Gajraj—an elephant who's been held captive for 51 years—is slowly succumbing to his injuries and illnesses after decades of abuse, exploitation, and neglect. His custodian, Ms. Gayatridevi Bhagwantrao Pantpratinidhi, and mahouts (handlers) left him to die alone because he's too sick and old to beg for money. It's extremely cruel to let him suffer in agony and perish in chains.

Gajraj the Elephant

In 1965, Gajraj was taken from his home in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, when he was 12 years old. He was forced to make the 500-mile journey to Maharashtra, which took a month and a half. He's been living under the punishing tutelage of Ms. Gayatridevi ever since.

Gajraj's suffering is appalling: The stench of his feces and urine assaults visitors before they even reach the little patch of concrete where he's kept constantly chained, which has caused painful abscesses on his hindquarters and elbows. He also suffers from broken and overgrown toe nails on all four feet.

Gajraj the Elephant

Gajraj the Elephant

Gajraj the Elephant

He is understandably at his breaking point. He tries to escape the chains that rub his ankles raw and exhibits the classic signs of severe psychological anguish—including bobbing his head and swaying, which healthy elephants in nature don't do. Someone has even hacked off his tusks without the state forest department's permission.

Gajraj the Elephant

Tourist websites promote visiting Gajraj as a must-do excursion and an experience of "serenity and bliss"—but anyone can see that his life is a lonely living hell. The unregulated sweets and food that visitors leave him cause intestinal issues, inflicting even more harm on his ailing body.

The Maharashtra Forest Department must immediately free Gajraj from this grotesquely inhumane situation and secure his retirement to a reputable elephant-care center, where he can get veterinary treatment and live out the rest of his life free from chains.

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