Indian Supreme Court Upholds Order to Release Abused Elephant Sunder

PETA India Wins Long Legal Fight for Young, Now Injured Elephant

For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2014

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – Today, the Supreme Court of India passed a judgment in favor of PETA India by ordering the implementation of an April 7,2014, Bombay High Court order to release the well-known and much-abused young elephant Sunder—who was chained in a temple, beaten, and hidden away in a poultry shed after his condition came under scrutiny—to an elephant care center in Bangalore by no later than June 15.

This move comes on the heels of a wave of support from celebrities, including Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, and many others.

“Despite every obstacle thrown in his path, this abused young elephant will now be on his way to safety,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Sunder has known only violence, misery, and neglect. By ordering his release, the Indian Supreme Court has made clear that cruelty to elephants, even in the name of religion, will not be tolerated. PETA is looking forward to seeing Sunder receive the care and respect that he deserves.”

The Jyotiba temple in Kolhapur came into possession of Sunder in 2007, but after cruelty such as the use of spiked chains and beatings came to light, authorities with 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 Minister of the Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore—who had given Sunder as a “gift” to the temple—and hidden in an old poultry shed, where he continued to be beaten and was so heavily chained that he recently sustained a serious injury on his leg. Today’s court decision included a dismissal of Kore’s Special Leave Petition and orders that Maharashtra State authorities will be responsible for moving Sunder before the strict deadline of June 15.

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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