Back to life in chains for Raju the crying elephant?

This article is more than 12 months old

Raju the elephant captured hearts worldwide when he wept after being released from 50 years of captivity.

But now he could potentially go back to misery - after his former owners launched a legal battle to get him back.

Previously forced to work as a begging elephant, Raju's former owners insist he is their "rightful property".

During the time he was held captive, Raju's legs were bound with spiked shackles.

Rescuers took 45 minutes to remove the chains, which left Raju with chronic wounds.

In July, workers from the Wildlife SOS's Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in India rescued him during a midnight operation.

Raju then joined five female elephants.

The charity's founder Kartick Satyanarayan, who led the rescue operation, said: "We are devastated that after all he's been through, we're still having to fight for (his) freedom. His owner is arguing that Raju is his property, which must be returned to him for his use.

"We are hoping the courts will see sense that this can never happen as Raju was treated with appalling cruelty and torture in his hands in the first place and the man claiming ownership of Raju has no legal grounds to claim him back under Indian law."

The courts will decide Raju's fate at a hearing in Allahabad on Sep 4.

Rescuers have started a Raju Legal fund to fight such legal battles.

Mr Satyanarayan added: "'We want this case to set a precedent across India to change the way elephants are treated and abusers are punished and justice prevails for these magnificent creatures that suffer in silence."

Sources: Mail Online, Huffington Post