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For those of you who haven’t heard about Sunder, let us fill you in. Sunder is a young Indian elephant who once lived in the Jyotiba Temple in the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, India. Here, he endured years of abuse and beatings at the hands of his captors.
His plight first gained public attention in 2012 after Paul McCartney heard about it and called for his release. However, Indian news outlet The India Times believes that Sunder was donated to the Jyotiba temple in 2007, and was kept in chains and beaten from that time onwards.
PETA has been engaged in an ongoing battle to free him, and it appeared as though they had met with success in 2013, after the Maharashtra Forest Department ordered that he be sent to an elephant sanctuary. But it has now emerged that the order was not implemented, and Sunder is STILL being held captive – this time, in a disused poultry shed in the nearby locality of Warananagar.
PETA claims to have obtained video footage of Sunder’s supposedly “improved” conditions, that shows him being aggressively beaten by a mahout (elephant keeper). They also state that Sunder is still displaying all of the classic signs of distress in elephants: constant head-wobbling, swaying from side to side, and other abnormal repetitive behaviors.
Manilal Valliyate, PETA’s director of veterinary affairs in India, says that domestically kept elephants “face a grim existence in India.” Many are kept outside the doors of private homes to bestow blessings upon visitors, but are often horrendously maltreated. According to Valliyate, “The way elephants are kept and treated here in India violates almost all norms. Sunder is just one example.”
While PETA continues to campaign for Sunder’s move to an elephant sanctuary, you can also help keep the pressure on Indian authorities to free him by adding your name to PETA’s petition. You can also share this article to spread awareness about his plight. The more people know about it, the better!
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