- Raju was held in chains for more than 50 years after being poached in India
- The animal bled from spiked shackles and lived on hand-outs from tourists
- Team from North London charity Wildlife SOS travelled to India to free the animal
- Raju cried tears of joy after being freed from suffering on American Independence Day
- Five-and-a-half ton animal driven 350 miles away to a safe conservation areaÂ
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These incredible pictures show the moment an elephant who was held in chains and beaten and abused for fifty years cried as he was released to freedom.
Raju the elephant was left bleeding from spiked shackles and living on hand-outs from passing tourists after he was captured and tied up by his â€˜ownerâ€™.
But, after 50 years of torture, the animal cried tears of relief after he was rescued by a wildlife charity in a daring midnight operation â€“ fittingly on American Independence Day.
North London-based charity Wildlife SOS stepped in to save Raju from dying in his bonds after learning of his plight in India.
Every day, the majestic animal was forced to hold out his trunk and beg for a few coins from passers-by â€“ surviving only on plastic and paper for food.
However, last week, a 10-strong team of vets and wildlife experts from the charity were joined by 20 forestry department officers and six policemen to seize Raju from his suffering in the Uttar Pradesh area of India.