Putting pressure on Sunder’s captors

There is some great news to report about Sunder, the young elephant we are trying to rescue from the Jyotiba Temple. Recently, we received the order from Indian officials that we’ve long been hoping for and fighting for stating that Sunder must be transferred to a wildlife rescue-and-rehabilitation center near Bangalore. This is a wonderful step, and we are collectively holding our breath in anticipation that the move will actually take place.

This change is a result of the worldwide advocacy campaign that we launched in order to free Sunder. Normally, we try to develop a cooperative relationship with temple trustees without involving the public, but the officials at this temple are so stubborn that we had no choice but to pull out all the stops.


In this photo, Sunder’s mahout (handler) is riding him and holding a rod to beat him with. Suspended from Sunder’s ear is the diabolical ankus (also known as a “bullhook”), which has a spike on the tip along with a sharp hook. Sunder cannot move without being reminded of the pain that can be inflicted by this implement.


Here is the mahout’s assistant striking Sunder with this hideous weapon.

In our efforts to free Sunder from the living hell that he has endured for the past six of his 13 years, we lined up a sanctuary to which he can be relocated, and an action alert was posted online asking people to e-mail the Maharashtra forest minister as well as the man who donated Sunder to the temple and urge them to release Sunder to a sanctuary.

We also enlisted the help of international superstars Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson. Their pleas on PETA’s behalf for Sunder’s release made headlines all over the world—including in the London Daily Mail, The Sun, and The Times of India—putting more pressure on Sunder’s captors by making them feel the heat of the international media spotlight.

If young Sunder is moved, he will finally be out of the clutches of the cruel mahout who injured his eye and covered his body with bruises and of the temple authorities who keep him chained and isolated. I will, of course, keep you updated as the case progresses.


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  • janice


    • Radhika

      Just remarkable, hope you can get support from all over the world to continue such noble work.

  • janet jenkins

    with the help of paul Mccartney and Pamela Anderson and so many others not as well known this 13 year old will soon only know love and kindness in his new home it is so dreadful to imagine the pain and sadness he has known – they are wonderful wonderful animals so we should all feel p r oud that our efforts and partitions do help every day

  • janet jenkins

    why is there no jail for those HOLY men ????
    !!!!! I wonder if his eye can be helped ?

  • S Demougeot

    It’s so sad how human have snatched the rights of animals to live a peaceful normal life…

  • Linda Korpela

    This is terrible…i hope that aindian goverment will put end of this kind of animal gruelty. I know that this kind of animal abuse is so wrong and im asking that this would be end of this knd of gruelty..please stop this,please :(

  • Cristina Tamayo

    This story takes my breath away (in a very sad way), every time I read about him I cry, I honestly cannot believe so much pain can be caused by a human being (if that is what these handlers should be called, although they do not deserve being called humans) to an innocent and beautiful animal such as this elephant. I will pray his move is soon, and that he will soon receive respect and so much deserved love.
    Thank you for your help with him and many other animals.
    Best regards from Colombia,

  • Brennemann

    De tout coeur avec vous pour libérer Sunder de l’enfer qu’il doit vivre au quotidien. Inadmissible de traiter un être vivant de la sorte.

  • Amanda M.

    Reading about this elephant’s treatment makes me cry. surely we are here such a short time lets give love and enjoy each other’s company, not give more pain and suffering. Please, I hope you will post again to let us know the status of your attempt to get Sunder relocated.

  • Ben Parsons


  • ione

    É muito triste, pobre bichinho……o ser humano é muito cruel!!!!

  • hardik

    today is ganesh chatuthi and i am seeing all this…..!
    lord save this world !

  • Pamela Akervik Garrett

    The first step towards humanity is kindness to animals. Stop and learn that they feel grief, pain, fear, hunger. Until then you are less than they are.

  • mary arthur

    Oh please tell my why this is taking so long. The order to free sunder happened (a month ago?) and still there is no news of his move. Please tell me he is not still chained with spikes in solitary confinement…and suffering so!
    I know that Animals RAHAT, those WONDERFUL kind people have stepped in to care for him, but can’t we get an update?

  • Ellen

    Good God, can’t these mahout be charged with animal cruelty. I am so happy for Sunder but how many others are there and how can we help.

  • shivani

    This is such a sick thing human beings are doing to the animals…..dey are just so lovely…nd personally dere should be made very stirct rules for hurting or harming the animals in nyway…but once ol the ministers get tym from filling their swiss bank acounts, will dey devote their time in making good laws!!!!!!!

  • Janie Hicks

    I will never understand why completely helpless and innocent animals, like Sunder, have to suffer through each and every day of their lives. We are all living beings, creatures of God. As such, let’s please be kind to our fellow creatures, who, like people, have a right to live in peace on this planet Earth.

  • Barry Kybird

    I was told that Sunder would be going to the sanctuary today 5 October 2012, is this happening, and how long does the journey take ?

    Anyone know answers to these questions, please ?

  • Sam

    Thanks a lot PETA, Animal Rahat, Pamela Anderson and Paul Mccartney for your enormous efforts in saving Sunder’s life. May God bless you all. Thank you again.

  • Barry Kybird

    Have not heard confirmation that elephant Sunder is on his way to the sanctuary, it’s been 4 months since the announcement that he would be freed !

    Does anyone have better updated info, please ?

  • mary arthur

    What are the problems involved with moving Sunder? It has been months and months since the order to remove him came down. AND I THOUGHT THE CRUEL MAHOUT WAS ON THE RUN, YET THIS ARTICLE INDICATES THAT HE IS STILL UNDER HIS “CARE”!!!
    AND why does this article say “if he is removed?”

  • Nina

    THANK GOD this is happening!!!! This is the most disgusting thing on earth, to hurt those who can’t defend themselves. Animals depend on us to be there for them.

    We are ALL ONE WORLD- our ecosystems depend upon one another to keep all of us safe and going, it is ALWAYS a two-way road. If we can do anything to help, PLEASE tell us. We have to protect animals NOW. It is our duty, period.

    Temples should be examined out there and visited regularly to prevent this from happening, especially where India’s use of elephants is a part of regular town and community life.

    These majestic creatures, big and small. In our prayers and thoughts Sunder!!

  • heather delory

    Please keep me up-to-date on his release and hopefully it will be soon

  • Aloysius Maes


  • Linda Hutchinson

    Please keep me updated on Sunder and his move to freedom.

  • Avril Anderson

    I am so happy that you are doing as much as you can can for Sunder, please keep trying, no animal should be treated in this terrible fashion. I will do all I can to support . Please let me know; Avril

  • Ellen

    It is November 14, 2012. Where is Sunder now? Do you have him in your custody yet? Please let me know or publish an update.

  • trina

    Has Sunder been rescued?

    • Zee

      It is now March 2014 and Sunder is still NOT RESCUED! These Indian authorities are deliberately dragging their feet in hopes he will die and solve everything – what a corrupt horrible bunch.

  • santosh

    this is very disgusting in the name of god.what cruelty, they are showing to young elephant calf .devsthan samiti is also closing eyes,this is nothing but the insult to god jyotiba.this must be stop& release the sunder from the devsthan trust to the wildlife.devsthan samiti must be held for responsible for this situation .

  • Rosie

    Absolutely disgusting!
    No questions should be asked!!! Get this poor animal out of this miserable life!!

    These people torturing him on a daily basis will rot in hell.

  • jan betts

    this elephant has not yet been freed what is being done about this!! how are people allowed to get away with this torture

  • Zee

    It is now March 2014 and Sunder is STILL NOT RESCUED! These Indian authorities are deliberately dragging their feet in hopes he will die and solve everything – what a corrupt horrible bunch.

  • Seema Vaid


    Read today that Sunder is still captive and has not been freed. Please update on his situation and put pressure on the government to free Sunder …

  • Seema Vaid

    Please free Sunder

  • Kathy Nicolai

    Pamela, you are so right about us being less than…if we don’t show caring and respect to all God’s creatures. If nothing is done to the abusers in this world, may He make them suffer for eternity in His. My heart hurts whenever I read such things.

  • Debra

    How do we know this to be true. He has suffered so much and he needs out of there immediately. His owners should also be put on trial. What a happy day it will be for him.

  • Mary

    Please let me know about Sunder, I really like this animal and hope that by now he has been removed to a better place before he dies of mistreatment. Those mahouts should be jailed for this.

  • marie lewis

    this beautiful majestic animal deserves to be freed and to live out his life in a sanctuary along with other elephants.. he deserves kindness and security and to be freed of abuse and cruelty. I pray that his rescue happens soon and that no more delays occur.

  • Jenny V Eady

    Sunder is STILL in the same hellhole although the courts set him free!!! This is an outrage!!!!

  • Jean Clark

    I am at a loss as to why PETA hasn’t made arrangements to get a truck and go get Sunder and transport him to safety. Why hasn’t this bastard that is beating him daily been arrested? PETA doesn’t seem to be on the ball to make Sunder’s release a reality. Also, I can’t understand why PETA didn’t rescue the dogs at the Government Breeding Facility in India – the pictures of these beautiful dogs is heartbreaking and made me cry. I pray for these animals daily but my prayers don’t seem to be answered. RELEASE SUNDER ASAP – WHY HASN’T THE HIGH COURT FOLLOWED UP ON SUNDER’S RELEASE????

  • JA Malone

    The news from PETA India is not good. Sunder is almost ready to go, and the politician Kore who gifted him to the temple has filed yet another appeal. Surely it will be denied. Butnhiw long will it take? Very hard to understand why this elephant was not seized immediately with so much graphic evidence of abuse.

  • Ina Wagner

    I will be totally happy when Sunder is in a secure sanctuary where he will finally be safe and free.
    I keep hoping we’ll be seeing proof of that very, very soon. I would like to know WHY these people abuse this elephant? What is it that they are to gain from it.? Just evil pleasure or what. Please keep us up to date on Sunder. Thank you. thank you for all the hard work that you do for these voiceless precious animals.

  • Gretchen

    What will happen to his captors? Are they going to be punished? These men are dangerous and will do this again to another animal when they get the chance!!!