This Diwali is the happiest one for Sunder, a rescued male elephant, after a span of seven-years of his solitary confinement and routinely abused life at a temple in Kolhapur, a city on the banks of the Panchaganga river in the west Indian state of Maharashtra.
Sunder’s life wasn’t so joyful before 2014. He lost his joyful free life in 2007 when he was given as a gift to the temple in Kolhapur as a very young elephant.
When PETA India learned about Sunder’s plight, he had an injured eye, a hole in his ear, and scars all over his body from the cruelty he had endured.
Following appeals from hundreds of thousands of PETA India supporters – including iconic singer Paul McCartney, actress Pamela Anderson, and acting legend Amitabh Bachchan – the Supreme Court ruled in favour of PETA India, and in 2014, Sunder was moved to his new home at the Bannerghatta Biological Park, where he can walk free, swim, and socialise with other elephants.
“Sunder’s rescue from chains and beatings is one which we hope will lead to freedom for more captive elephants used in circuses, for rides, and in other ways, who are still suffering,” says PETA India CEO Dr Manilal Valliyate.
“Now 21 years old, Sunder is thriving in his new home, where the rest of his life will be as sweet as this treat.”
“It’s our privilege to have Sunder as part of our Bannerghatta Biological Park family. He is truly a gentle giant who loves the company of other elephants as well as his keepers,” says Vanashree Vipin Singh, IFS, chief conservator of forests and executive director of Bannerghatta Biological Park.
“He has gradually habituated to his life here in Bannerghatta and we will continue to give him all the care and love. Special thanks to all his well-wishers from all over the world and PETA for bringing light into Sunder’s life as well as for their continuous support and love.”
PETA India’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”, and the group opposes a human-supremacist world view.