The animal had been held in chains at night, which were cutting into his flesh that caused pus to seep out of the wounds whenever he moved. During the day, he was used as a prop for panhandlers on the street. He was underfed and became so hungry that he began eating plastic and paper. His handler was also tearing the hair off of his tail to sell as good luck charms to tourists.
During a daring midnight rescue, the organization confronted the handler and refused to back down. Fortunately, they were victorious in the standoff. When Raju's chains were finally cut and he felt freedom for the first time in his life, tears of joy rolled down his face.
"Have you ever seen a grown elephant cry? This photo is a reminder to all that elephants have strong emotional lives and they have the ability to suffer deeply," they captioned the touching image. "This photo was taken of Raju when the rescue mission first began. He had a flood of tears from his eyes when our team first moved in to secure his freedom."
Raju's injuries from the abuse are now being tended to and he's finally learning what it feels like to be loved and cared for.
Some of the new additions to Raju's life include a shelter (which he did not have in captivity), the ability to take chain-free walks, enjoy soothing showers and munch on snacks such as jackfruit and bananas. Sometimes he even takes his bananas on his walks with him!
We're not gonna lie- after hearing this incredibly sad story and then seeing how it all turned out, Raju wasn't the only one crying tears of joy.
Click the video below for more on Raju's story and the unimaginable suffering he endured before being rescued. If you'd like to donate to the organization who rescued him or help directly with Raju's needs, you can visit the Wildlife SOS India website for more info.