The incredible story of Raju the Elephant has inspired filmmakers to make a feature film based on the abused animal. Raju's story went viral after he was rescued in the middle of the night by a team at the Wildlife SOS Conservation and Care Center, and the majestic creature cried tears of joy upon being freed.
Per Deadline, U.S.-based manager-producer Larry Brezner has acquired the film rights to Raju's story. The "Ride Along" producer will produce with father-son team Vijay and Prakash Amritraj who traveled to India to gain the rights. The story will center on the head of India's SOS Center, Kartrick Satyanarayan, and head of the Wildlife SOS Foundation, Nikki Sharp.
"Fearing the elephant was going to die, the rescue happened on Independence Day on July 4," Brezner described the daring events. "Through the strategic planning of the Wildlife SOS in the U.S. and the Indian Wildlife SOS it was decided, due to his failing health, this mission had to take place immediately to save his life."
Raju is believed to have been taken from his mother while a cub. He had been sold to numerous owners throughout 50 years of his life, living in appalling condition. His latest owner put him in spiked shackles and left him starving. After rescued, Raju lives in a sanctuary where he gets proper shelter, food, health care and companion from other elephants.
His previous handler is now suing to get the animal back. "It took us 45 minutes to remove shackles that had torn into his flesh for 50 years - an act of unthinkable cruelty," Satyanarayan said in a statement. "Now his owner is arguing that Raju is his property, which must be returned to him for his use. We are planning to fight this tooth and nail through the courts."