First Photos: Abused Elephant Finally Reaches Rescue Park in India

Sunder Finds Solace, Companionship Following Long PETA India Campaign

For Immediate Release:
June 6, 2014

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – Following a Supreme Court of India order and a nearly 24-hour journey via truck that sometimes involved being chased by threatening men on motorcycles, elephant Sunder reached a 122-acre forested elephant-care center at Bannerghatta Biological Park early this morning. After he has adjusted to his new surroundings and his leg wounds caused by painfully tight chaining have healed, he’ll be able to roam the grounds freely in the company of 13 other elephants. Sunder’s rescue comes after a hard-fought two-year campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India that included the secret documentation of video footage and photographs of Sunder’s plight, numerous meetings with government officials, celebrity involvement, online appeals, and victories in the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. The very first photograph of Sunder in his new home is available here

“Despite every obstacle thrown in Sunder’s path, PETA rejoices that this abused young elephant is now at a safe refuge,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “Sunder has known only cruelty and neglect, but soon he will be roaming, bathing in ponds, socializing with other members of his own species, and, finally, just being an elephant.”

In addition to concerned people around the world, the rescue was supported by Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, and a host of top Indian actors and other celebrities who took to Twitter and met with helpful government officials.

The Jyotiba temple came into possession of Sunder in 2007, but after abuses such as the use of spiked chains and beatings came to light, the Maharashtra (state) minister of forests and the Project Elephant division of the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued orders for Sunder’s rescue in 2012. However, they were never carried out, and Sunder was then spirited away at the behest of Member of the Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore and hidden in an old poultry shed. There, he continued to be beaten and was so heavily chained that he sustained a serious injury to his leg, which veterinary experts are now working to address.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind