(KVUE) ALLAHABAD, India -- A London-based nonprofit rescued a 50-year-old abused working elephant from the streets of India on the Fourth of July. The non-profit posted a picture of Raju crying shortly after he was freed from the chains he had worn for decades.
"He [Raju] has spent almost 50 years in chains and most likely would have died never known freedom; however, on July 4th, Raju took his first steps as a 'free' elephant," the nonprofit wrote on their website.
The worn down animal was rescued by Wildlife S.O.S. after he was captured in the wild as a calf and kept as a working elephant on the streets of India for most of his life.
The nonprofit received a court order in June allowing them to rescue Raju after an Indian forest department alerted the non-profit of Raju's predicament nearly a year ago. Donations helped fund Raju's rescue and recovery.
A day before America's Independence Day, a team of wildlife experts and veterinarians traveled to India to save the elephant. Raju's owner didn't have the proper paperwork to keep him as a begging elephant, allowing the wildlife non-profit to complete their daylong rescue.
RELATED: Go here to see Raju's rescue
Veterinarians assisting the rescue said the elephant has deep scars after he spent years being tethered to chains. Raju's owner would beat the elephant to make him beg for money and food from tourists, the nonprofit said. Most of the food Raju received was not nutritious for an elephant, and he was half starved when rescuers found him. In order to gain his trust during the rescue, conservators fed him bananas and jackfruit, a native fruit of India.
"Let's all of us wish Happy Independence Day to Raju," the nonprofit wrote on their Facebook page Friday.
Raju's first day of freedom was on July 4.
"Have you ever seen a grown elephant cry? This photo [pictured above] is a reminder to all that elephants have strong emotional lives, and they have the ability to suffer deeply. 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. Some would question that Raju was truly weeping; however, our team that witnessed this moment know differently," the nonprofit wrote Sunday.
Floods of well-wishers commented on Raju's rescue and recovery on the wildlife charity's Facebook page.
"Hope he has another 50 years to enjoy freedom. So precious, so majestic and now, so free!" one user wrote. "The comments after this story are massively supportive. So glad Raju's experience is touching many," another user added.
Raju's new home will be at the Elephant Care and Conservation Center located in Central Florida.
Allahabad, India is located in Northern India.
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