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Captive Elephant Erupts in Anger—Help Now!

Written by Michelle Kretzer | August 13, 2012


Over the weekend, Sunder became violent and uncontrollable and attempted to escape. The fierce outburst included pulling down a heavy pillar to which he was tied with strong ropes and ransacking local retail shops—actions that show that he is suffering severely and is desperate to flee from his abusers.

Pillar to which Sunder was tied

Sunder, back in the dark shed, chained

PETA India has demanded an emergency meeting with Maharashtra Forest Minister Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam to secure Sunder’s relocation to a sanctuary, pointing out that people living in and around the temple are at risk of being harmed or killed and that the mahout and temple management are now likely to abuse Sunder even more as they try to control him. Please write to Dr. Kadam today and get everyone you know to do the same. Urge him politely but firmly to arrange for Sunder’s relocation immediately. The world is watching. Thank you.

Originally posted August 6:

You may have heard that just before the London Olympic Games, Paul McCartney halted rehearsals to make an urgent plea in behalf of a suffering young elephant. Now, PETA India has obtained new photographic evidence of the abuse that the elephant is enduring while being used as a living begging bowl and beaten by a vicious, inept young mahout (trainer).

At just 13 years old, Sunder has already experienced terrible torment. Kept in chains in a dark shed at the Jyotiba Temple in Maharashtra, India, he is unable to take even a single step without causing a spike to jab his skin.

When he is taken out of the shed in order to beg for money for this wealthy temple, the mahout controls him with a spiked chain, a sharp bullhook (which is like a fireplace poker), and other weapons that force Sunder to follow orders out of fear of being struck.

Sunder is often seen with fresh wounds that he sustained during beatings, and the marks that cover his body stand as evidence of years of abuse. A PETA India–supported program, Animal Rahat, was finally given permission to provide the elephant with veterinary care for his right eye, which was likely injured from being jabbed with a bullhook.

Sunder is also denied adequate food and water and never experiences anything that is natural and important to him, such as exploring the woods and enjoying the company of other elephants.

A complaint has been filed with police against Sunder’s mahout, since the torment that he inflicts on the elephant is in violation of the Wildlife Protection acts of 1972 and 2002 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. PETA India and the veterinarians present are also requesting that Forest Minister Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam use his authority to have Sunder surrendered and retired to a proper sanctuary that PETA India has standing by to receive him.

Help free Sunder! E-mail the forest minister, Dr. Kadam, and urge him to free Sunder without a moment’s delay.

Commenting is closed.
  • Rocky says:

    Sunder must be freed NOW ! After all of this B.S.,hearings that did nothing but waste time,and give these inhuman bastards more time to brutalize this beautiful Creation of God, the time has now come for Humanity to be just that-FREE SUNDER. FREE SUNDER. FREE SUNDER. No excuses accepted now!

  • Arlene Lopez says:

    There is no reason an innocent animal/person/soul should ever have to live a “life” like this. The real ANIMALS treating Sunder like this are getting absolutely NOTHING out of torturing a sweet animal like this so why is this still happening and hasn’t anything been done about this?? It’s sickening to watch the videos of Sunder being abused and it is more than obvious the pain this elephant is feeling. Years and years of this hell he is in is just unbelievable and completely ridiculous. PLEASE FREE SUNDER TO A BETTER PLACE WHERE HE WILL BE TREATED WITH LOVE AND CARE THAT HE UNDOUBTEDLY IS IN NEED OF. ANIMALS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN HUMAN BEINGS AND SHOULD NOT BE TREATED ANY LESS JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN’T SPEAK. ANIMALS RELY ON US TO SPEAK FOR THEM AND DO WHAT IT TAKES TO SEE TO IT THAT THEY ARE SAFE AND TAKEN CARE OF. SUNDER IS NO DIFFERENT. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FREE SUNDER!

  • Melanie Blues says:

    Please Government of India have a heart. Enough is enough, this poor Elephant has been beaten and abused by the hands of some cruel person. Do not let this continue. The world is watching. God see’s everything. Please Free Sunder NOW to a sanctuary, this is very cruel and sadistic to allow this helpless animal to continue this way. Animals are God’s creatures as well and we as humans have a duty to protect them and have them treated fairly. This is outrages.

  • Helen Ornelas says:

    Dr. Kadam must know that the world is watching to see how he and the Indian government respond . Please arrange for Sunder’s relocation to a sanctuary immediately before Sunder is further tortured. Surely you cannot in good conscience let this cruel and unending abuse continue.

  • It is unbelievable that this cruelty has been allowed to continue for so long, it’s 7 years of abuse we are talking about now. Laws have been broken. Crimes against Sundar have been committed, violations of Wildlife Protection Act, and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – the clear evidence is Sundar himself – and nothing has been done. Sundar should have been confiscated by the power of the law, removed from his daily torture and removed to safety. Why wasn’t this done? Instead, celebrities, animal rights and welfare groups have had to resort to appeals, protests, launch petitions and court hearings, all of which have gone on for two years. All the while, Sundar has been enduring the horrific abuse, even trying to make a run for it. This makes a sham out of Acts that have passed into legislation because no-one seems to heed them. There is pure outrage reverberating around the world over these crimes committed against this poor young elephant. According to the Acts mentioned above, Sundar is protected by the law and has rights – rights to have proper nourishment, access to water, shelter, a life free from abuse. He has had none of these privileges but rather has been treated far worse than a slave would have been. In spite of the abuse meted out by that mahout, he is still, to this day, inflicting injury upon Sunder with impunity. My heart goes out to this noble innocent creature who has been badly let down by the very people who passed these Acts into legislation. It pains me to see his current state – his health has deteriorated, his face has recently been wounded and is badly bruised. I dread to think that he may very well breathe his last before he is delivered from this appalling abuse. What a terrible tragedy that would be.

  • susan david says:

    PLEASE HURRY NOW!!!!!!!NOW!!! Saunder cannot wait any longer —I don’t know who to contact and what to do —-these people needed to be brought to justice for lying to the public and for the unbelievable pain they have caused!!!

  • Susan Waughman says:

    I really cant understand why Peta cant seize this poor elephant, the cruelty is being allowed to go on and on… the high court corrupt and toothless? why oh why isn’t this mahout being arrested?!? there are so many of us campaigning for Sunder yet our voices are going unheard and nothing is done : (

  • I am very angry and upset at the country of India treating there animals this way. Also, shocked of Sir Paul McCarthy going there and not take immediate action to this abusers. They should be immediately arrested by the Police Department and have severe charges charged to them right now! Release this helpless poor animal and close this horrible place now!! Let this animal go free immediately! India your no civilized country to me any more. You have failed tremendously of what you do, and your abusers should face hard times in jail for the rest of their life. Free Sundl the elephant Now and Mr.Mcarthy do something about it, get tough now. Show us the rock legend you are to the world, to the young generation too. Free this animal now!!!

  • Michelle says:

    Where is he now? What happened since the February hearing?

  • TL says:

    Is there legislation to stop the use of “billhooks”

  • massi says:

    FREE SUNDER NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tammy Conrad says:

    Oh please PETA, please help this poor sweet beast. Please get him out of there!!!!


  • Jen says:

    I cant even express how horrified and heartbroken I am and outraged! I hope Sunder is liberated immediately.

  • I’m not surprised he’s behaving like this set him free,you would not do this to another human being help him he’s crying out.

  • Geraldine Burton says:

    Is there an update on Sunders plight, Is he still in the Temple ??


    I haven’t heard of or seen an update on dear Sunder since the summer. I think about her every day and feel greatly troubled by her condition. Does anyone have any recent news? I’ve checked PetaIndia, but there is nothing noted. I want to do more than pray. Can we not raise money, purchase her, and give her to a sanctuary for her peace.

  • Ajay says:

    I am from India, and from a place which is near to where Sunder is located. It is so ironic we hindu worship Elephant God (Ganapati) and we torture a Elephant just for our selfish motives.

  • Anne Elizabeth McDougle says:

    Talk is getting nowhere with these people. They will eventually kill this magnificent creature as he is about to enter his breeding cycle, he will be even more difficult to control and more abuse will occur. Please, Sir Paul, CNN or whoever has the means and power must go there in person, bring the media spotlight and offer to buy Sunder from them immediately since money is what matters most to them and what they are using him for. This elephant will die and/or suffer further for many years more unless someone does this immediately and without further hesitation. As part of the purchase agreement, it must be written that as long as no additional animal is used in this situation, an annual donation will be made to the temple. This must be treated as a business transaction because that is what will appeal to these heartless people. They will never care about the animal or respond to compassionate reason. Action must be taken now.

  • Sara says:

    Please Peta help her!!!! If I could save her myself, I would!! I am sooo angry and overcome by grief for this poor defenseless animal!!! We all need to get together and help her!!!

  • J. Wolski says:

    This temple and the people who placed Sunder there are “sadists,” and, Sunder, the tortured victim, is their “masochist.” Why is this temple allowed to engage in this abusive animal role-playing relationship? Why is this temple allowed to portray India and its religions in such a PERVERSE light? The World is Watching and would simply like the non consenting victim to be released into a sanctuary, such as the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (this is a solution). This backwards and “frustrated” temple cannot provide food, water and care for this animal, or have a normal and godly relationship with it, so release it!! Sunder would be better in the woods than with these men and their UNNATURAL animal games. Mr. Kadam and all the characters involved enjoy watching and participating in animal abuse so that is why they immerse themselves in it on a daily basis in their temples. Now everybody knows what they do.

  • Iris Smith says:

    This is so wrong. An elephant is a creature of God.God would definitely not approve of an animal being treated in this way in His Name.

  • Chris says:

    Please free this elephant NOW – no need to hang around for red tape etc., please Paul get a plane out there and get him away from this hell.

  • Caroline Taylor says:

    I so wish I had the money to fly over to India and help to try and rescue this elephant by whatever means. This is truly shocking the abuse is has endured.

  • Diana says:

    India’s State Maharashtra beleives in God Ganesha and worships him. Ganesha is a God with a face of Elephant. How can these people cause so much pain to an animal that looks like our God Ganesha.

    I want to go there and help Sunder. But I know those [expletive] will make fun of me and insult me coz i will speak for that animal. India is full of hese crap people. I am an Indian and i hate to now that such hipocrates people are Indian citizens.

  • Janice Wolski says:

    This temple is a DISGRACE TO INDIA and its religion. This temple is such bad PR for India, its temples and its religions. This temple is not “spiritual”as it kills the spirit and life of this elephant. The temple is fake, Mr. Kadam aka DOCTOR OF TERROR is fake, and they should be exposed as the criminals they are. They must get a perverse thrill from beating animals.


    Free Elephant Sunder. Do not allow this magnificent animal to suffer further pain and indignity!

  • Ruth Snow says:

    I’m gutted and appalled that people behave this way. May all sentient beings know lasting happiness. Sarva mangalam xx

  • Joel says:

    How can the people standby and watch this abuse, THEN give money to the abuser? Words fail me.

  • Chelsea says:

    This is horrid, how would you like this being done too you? Or your family? Or your pets if you have any. You type of people make me sick! Would you like too be treat like that? Like a slave and be beat?! No you wouldn’t. If you’re a real personn and a REAL MAN! You’ll let the poor thing go and be free. You sicken me, and I honestly can’t wait till karma gets you.

  • Zoey says:

    I will sent email today. thank you peta for working so hard for Sunder’s freedom.

  • Mimi says:

    I will not go to zoos, I will not go any where where animals are kept locked up for their life. If and when I go to other countries I will not give any money to these people who shamefully abuse this beautiful, sincere elephant. Be glad that I am not over there right now because I would give those men a dose of their own medicine using spike chains and bullhooks…..Let the punishment fit the crime..

  • Leigh Anne says:

    Please stop torturing this poor thing and send him to the sanctuary where he can start living a normal life with his companions.

  • Lisa says:

    Sunder has suffered enough, but i suspect this is not news to americans as you allow elephants to suffer in the hands of Ringlings, i think Paul McCartney and Peta India will probably do a better job to try help Sunder

  • Elena Perez de Gràcia says:

    Please stop this abuse to Sunder and jeep him free into a santuary

  • tania renard says:

    Free elephant Sunder!