Photos: Elephant cries when he’s freed from 50 years of abuse

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July 4 wasn’t just Independence Day here in America; an elephant who spent nearly 50 years chained up in captivity experienced a life of freedom for the first time that day.

According to Wildlife SOS, a charity based in London, Raju was considered a “working elephant” in India. People would pay for his blessings. He wasn’t fed a proper diet, and was forced to wear spike chains that caused serious wounds on his legs.

Wildlife SOS planned a “rescue mission” that started on July 2. His owner put up a fight, even tried to blocked the crews from taking Raju.

But the crews succeeded in their mission, and on July 4, he was officially freed.

According to Daily Mail, Pooja Binepal, of Wildlife SOS, said the experience was emotional not just for the team, but also for the elephant.

“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.”

Wildlife SOS says Raju has several wounds and sores as he begins a long road to recovery.

For much more on this story, click here.

For Wildlife SOS’ blog on the mission, click here.