rajuI don’t know about you, but elephants are my favourite animal. It’s something about the way they are so powerful, but so calm and gentle at the same time. Of course, I know they are also wild animals that can be dangerous when provoked, but when left to their own devices, they will just follow their natural instincts which are rather more peaceful. Many of you will have heard about the story of Raju the elephant who was finally freed after spending years in chains and being beaten by his owners, treated like a slave and cruelly left in spiked shackles that left him to bleed. It makes me feel sick just to think about it.The rather more innocent animal-lover in me, the girl who used to read endless books about life in the jungle or made up stories about the animals using her cuddly toys, wants to say she would never believe that anyone could be so cruel. But the truth is, I walk around with my eyes wide open, I read the stories, see those harrowing images and have seen the footage of cruel attacks.

None of us in this day and age can say we are ignorant of the disgusting treatment of some animals – as my regular readers will know it is something I am quite passionate about. I wrote a previous post on the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld after watching the Blackfish documentary, which had a huge response from others who were equally devastated by watching it. I signed several petitions after seeing that, and encouraged my readers to do the same. It is a horrible thing, to know that these things go on and yet to know that we are limited in what we can do individually to ease the situation – it is only when we come together to protest and act that we are actually powerful. But it is important that we do this, whether it is by signing petitions, choosing to use make-up that is not tested on animals or even choosing to be vegetarian – we can all help in very small ways that won’t make a huge difference to our own lives.

As a journalist, I know that this story will have been blown out of proportion by the writers at The Mail in order to attract more readers, but I also know that behind any story is truth. The fact that this poor animal was living off handouts and stood injured and bleeding after being shackled with spikes and cruelly beaten is just awful – I don’t understand who could treat another living being this way. Much like the guy who videoed himself punching a dog repeatedly, these people are sick and sad individuals who should be dealt with and stopped immediately from having any further contact with animals. Sadly, in a world as huge as ours, that is not always possible and often cannot be monitored as well as would be liked, this means some repeat offenders are able to own pets or take care of animals again leading to more terrible situations like this.

In this case, the poor elephant, Raju, cried tears of relief after being freed by charity workers on American Independence Day – such a beautiful ending, to know the animal has been freed by a charity who have moved him to a secure location where he will receive the care and love he needs to recuperate. The sad thing is that this animal will always be scarred by his experiences, afraid of humans and rightly so if this is how we treat our fellow creatures. This will live with Raju for years to come and you have to wonder if he will ever truly be free of the memories and the fear that comes with them. It’s heartbreaking. This is just another reason why I love elephants so much – because there is so much evidence to support them having real emotions as we experience them. I’ve read several cases of elephants crying or showing real grief after the death of a loved one – and this is something that just touches my heart in  a way that other animals don’t quite achieve.

I just hope that now Raju the elephant will live a much happier and peaceful life away from fear and brutality, with those who will care for and protect him. I’m hoping to volunteer at an wildlife sanctuary when I go travelling next year and among the animals I will be caring for are elephants – I hope that by doing so, I will be doing my bit to help ease the problems. For those who feel the way I do about all this, I have posted links to some petitions below – feel free to sign them and to do your bit to try and help the elephants.

Are you an animal lover? How did you feel when you read the news story and have you done anything about it?