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What a Difference Two Weeks Make: Sunder’s New Life

Written by Alisa Mullins | June 17, 2014

Sunder is adjusting to his new life in India’s lush, tropical Bannerghatta Biological Park.

Sunder in His New Home

His years of abuse and solitary confinement—he was beaten and kept tightly chained by all four legs in a dark shed—are over. The park staff are gently introducing him to his new language, his new caretakers, and the other elephants, and he’s loving it. He has already made friends with another male elephant named Van Raj as well as one of the park’s youngest residents, baby Shiva.

Sunder and Van Raj

Sunder and Van Raj.


Sunder with Baby Elephant Shiva

Sunder with Shiva.


Sunder is still being lightly restrained because he is still recovering from a massive leg injury caused by long-term confinement to tight, heavy chains, so he has not yet been permitted to walk freely through the park with the rest of the elephants, but he’s allowed to mingle with them when they’re in a smaller area, and as soon as his leg heals, he’ll have free run of the park’s 122 acres of forests, streams, and ponds.

Sunder's Leg Wound

Sunder’s leg wound.


It’s going to take some time before Sunder realizes that the beatings are over, that he can trust people, and that fresh forage and sunshine are his to enjoy. But his new caretakers are working hard to earn his trust (“bribes” of tasty coconuts and other treats are part of the process!), and they report that he’s already making excellent progress.

Sunder Grabs a Coconut

Sunder grabs a coconut from one of his caretakers.


This was a long, hard-fought effort. Sunder was being held captive by a rich and powerful politician who flouted both the law and government orders to free this young elephant prisoner. In fact, this man is still trying to interfere with Sunder, even though PETA India went all the way to the Supreme Court and won the elephant’s freedom.

Sunder's Old Life

Sunder’s old life


We’re grateful to everyone who made Sunder’s rescue possible. More than 220,000 people around the world wrote to authorities seeking Sunder’s release through action alerts on PETA affiliates’ websites. Many celebrities, including Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson, took to Twitter or wrote letters to keep the spotlight on Sunder’s plight. PETA India’s lawyers argued well, its veterinarians and experts were invaluable, and the Animal Rahat staff endured many sleepless nights and risked bodily harm in the face of interference and near-rioting by those who fought to keep Sunder from freedom.

Sunder with Other Elephants Feeding Nearby
So many went above and beyond, including PETA members Ron and Patty Allison, who wrote to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan to ask him to get involved (which he did). We also want to thank President’s Circle member Sam Simon for his characteristic generosity in making Sunder his godson—or should we say, “Ganesha son”?

It couldn’t have happened without compassionate people like you around the world taking action. On Sunder’s behalf, thank you!

Commenting is closed.
  • I was appalled, to put it mildly, when I read about poor Sunder. It’s impossible to fathom why someone would be so cruel to this animal. It’s a very sick person who can do this, evidently. And, when sick people are politically powerful, they find the way to do these things that give them a sick sense of power. So VERY GLAD that Sunder is on the mend.

  • Barbara Smith says:

    Never should have happened…but I, can’t, stop smiling!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sally says:

    Bad things happen because good people do nothing ! Thank you to Peta, Pamela Anderson and Paul McCartney and the unknown volunteers for the strength, influence and perseverance you put behind the hard work to free Sunder. This magnificent creature did nothing to deserve the life he had. I shall thank God in my prayers for this act of kindness and the people who made it possible.
    Sunder you enjoy every ray of sunshine and your freedom.
    Pity Peta could not help the elephant who needed a prosthesis after stepping on the landmine as the Government in Thailand or Sri Lanka would not allow the organisation to fit it. I believe this elephant is now severely deformed and cripple – does anyone know what happened?

  • Heidi says:

    Es ist sooooo schön, zu seh’n dass es Sunder schon viel besser geht. 🙂 Tausend Dank an Alle, die Ihn gerettet haben und nun dafür sorgen, daß es Ihm bald wieder richtig gut geht. Ihr seid die Besten!!! ♥

  • Rose says:

    How wonderful and all the people who helped Sunder’s rescue come about will be blessed, thanks to God for the fact there are still some truly good people in the world.

  • Birgit says:

    It is beyond wonderful to finally see Sunder so happy and enjoying the life he was meant to have as an elephant! Thanks so much for having followed this through!

  • Jayanti says:

    I felt very happy to see the after release photos of beautiful Sunder. Thank you Ron, Patty, Sam & Amitabh for striving so hard to free Sunder from the clutches of that powerful politician and the bastard handlers. I hope the politician no longer has control over poor Sunder as in India these powerful people don’t give up easily for their pride & ego. Please protect Sunder for many years to come.

  • Lucille gill says:

    Wonderful to see I love it I’m sure he knows he is loved

  • Susan Loughton says:

    So happy for Sunder. Thank you to everyone that saved this precious animals life. Please keep us updated with his progress and would love to see videos of him in his new home. How much longer will he be tied up? Thanks again and many blessings to all and to Sunder. God really does answer prayers. Thank you Father in Heaven.

  • Susan Church says:

    This brings tears to my eyes and gives me hope for other abused and forgotten animals. Thanks to all for helping Sunder escape his bondage.

  • Chris Glisson says:

    Live life now Sunder. By all the gods you deserve it ! <3

  • Lisa Scharin says:

    Thank-you and GOD BLESS YOU for being GOOD Stewards of GOD’S creatures!!!!!

  • Tracey says:

    Thank you Ingrid for all you have done for Sunder. You have a wonderful organization and I am so proud of PETA for all the work it has done to get Sunder’s freedom and to keep him safe and happy. And for your fight to keep all the other animals away from abuse. May you succeed as much as possible!!!

  • patricia says:

    Makes me tear up to see him now. He is doing real well in the two weeks and beginning to trust again. Now that he is safe we must help the other animals elephants, bears and any wildlife that are being abused all over the world.

  • Manel Dias says:

    Here it was mentioned that this innocent Sunder was brutally tortured while he was in the hands of a “rich politician” ?? May be that politician have robbed enough money from the poor to get rich but the heart is still evil and cruel. What is the point of being rich yet the person does not own a good, kind heart. This man should never be allowed to own any animals in his life time. He is down right ruthless and heartless criminal. I pray for Sunders quick recovery and punish the subhumans who abused this majestic animal unnecessarily.

  • Just the most wonderful thing to read, and to see pictures of him with other elephants is incredible. I’m proud to have been part of the 220,000 people who wrote to the authorities… Bring on the next case :-)))

  • C keany says:

    This makes me shed tears of joy. There is still good in the world. We need to save many more. The fight continues

  • Chris Hoolihan says:

    You’re all doing a fantastic job. Sunder looks so relaxed in his new surroundings. Can’t wait to see him roam around freely.

  • An amazing job by all concerned these beautiful beasts do not deserve chains xxx

  • sarah says:

    I am so happy, weldone to all of you. You have all done a fantastic job.

  • Veronica says:

    Wonderful end to this story well done everyone who helped.

  • dr. swati says:

    His leg wound scar reminds what all he. Had endured. And we endured long months and periods of despair to see you finally free. THANK YOU PETA. From free sunder Now group

  • I hope this rich ba****** never ever gets his evil hands on Sunder again and thanks to the Bollywood Star who helped and so much thanks to PETA and everyone who helped and kept signing the Petitions

  • Pamela Kaczynski says:

    I thought a small coral was going to be built for Sunder until his leg heals so he would not have to be chained at all. His leg does look a lot better . Just curious.

  • Pamela Kaczynski says:

    It is now June 20th 2014. How is Sunder healing both mentally and physically??How much longer do you think until he can join the herd? I am so happy he is free from abuse now. If someone could get back to me on his progress…I would deeply appreciate that.

  • jim duke says:

    Sunder-looking so much better-his leg wound is coming along slowly too. I am so happy for this brave very noble boy.Thanks to so many people around the world that fought so hard for his release from a hell on earth existence.

  • Dievertje says:

    This so. Beautiful to see. But how many others are still locked up.

  • lori conley says:

    More tears of joy at every update of Sunder…thank you! Hang in there Sunder – wonderful new things await you!

  • Robin says:

    This is wonderful! I’m so happy to see Sunder’s leg getting better and to see him getting the good care he needs and deserves! Love the pics of him with other elephants…tears of joy!

  • Chrissy Foster says:

    Sad story, happy ending. Thanks to all involved in his freedom….

  • Barbara says:

    Thank-you for the update on Sunder. Thank goodness that PETA fought for our baby boy. His life changed the moment that he was transported to Bannerghatta Biological Park. Love seeing him happy.

  • So good to see him happy and no longer miserable! Everyone was miserable right along with him- so great to see prayers answered & righteous people around him now!
    Thanks staff and all other heros!
    We love you Sunder- happy trails are waiting for you now!

  • Thank you so much for everything you have done for Sunder!! His many supporters are cheering. Question: It seems he hasn’t been moved from that spot in 2 weeks — will he be allowed to walk around a bit before his corral is finished? Thank you for the info!!

  • Deborah Oxley says:

    That is incredible. There always seems to be very dark updates from you and it is nice getting something happy. I wish they were all so lucky and my heart hurts for those that aren’t. PETA you are amazing xx

  • Pam Beauchamp says:

    God bless all of you that made this happen for Sunder. I pray his leg heals in time and he will be able to go as he pleases. May the brightness return to his eyes, and his soul returned to him.

  • Robin greenberg says:

    Thank you so much for these very wonderful updates and for all you all do!

  • Shab says:

    I cannot get enough of Sunder updates. I an so happy that he will live the rest of his life in peace with lots of love and no restraints!

  • Jenny Maasdorp says:

    Thank you PETA.

  • Giuliana Rinaldo says:

    Thank you so much Peta for sharing the pictures and updates on Sunder. It’s so beautiful and heart warming to see that Sunder is doing so well and he has friends, which can become his new family now. Sunder’s rescue is a testament to how so much love from so many people in high numbers can make a significant difference in life, fighting the odds and the bad guys for a better life! Sunder’s story is inspirational to have us all continue to help save and free other animals in need.

  • Sally louise says:

    Fabulous news weldone Peta.So heartwarming and an inspiration to keep fighting for these

  • Roger's Mum says:

    This is a wonderful end to Sunder’s sad story. Just wish it could be the same for all the other abused elephants. Thank you PETA for keeping up the fight.

  • caroline marriott says:

    Am so happy for Sunder but is there any chance that the red dye could be removed off his face. To me this is just a sad reminder of his past life.

  • Jim says:

    Thanks for your persistence. It’s nice
    To know there is an organization who will see things through and ACTUALLY see animals wrongs become animal rights! Peta, you rock!

  • elise says:

    thank you so much Peta India for saving Sunder’s life. Hopefully no more temple elephants will suffer this abuse

  • Eine Katze says:

    So happy that Sunder gets to have a second chance. Every animal deserves to be free and happy like Sunder now is.

  • Michelle Lacombe says:

    Thank you PETA! I’m so relived he is safe & happy. Please keep us informed on his progress please…

  • therese powers says:

    Bullhooks should be totally banned. Everywhere.

  • Lorna Mac says:

    Such a sad heartbreaking story with a happy ending! God bless Sunder and those who helped him 🙂

  • sharon chang says:

    we need more of this for poor Tony the truck stop tiger!

  • Susan says:

    This is truly heart-warming. It is a reminder than in the midst of cruelty, there are people who are caring and kind. Thanks, PETA. This brought a tear of joy to my eyes.

    • Teresa says:

      Now it is time to get Tony the Tiger a new home.

      • sharon chang says:

        is there some wealthy animal rights advocate who is willing to buy Tony’s freedom from the cruel Sandlin?i live in Louisiana and i don’t trust or have any faith in Jindal!