The day before she died, she was so emaciated one could barely tell she had once been an elephant. Skin sagged over her bony frame and her legs caved inward, no longer able to support the weight of her body. Every single movement, however small, elicited a heart-shattering cry of pain. And yet, in the small and dank room that was her “home,” men with spears, bull-hooks, and sticks beat her anyway to get her to move.
One day later, the Forest Department arrived to find that she had collapsed. We were extremely alarmed upon learning of her condition, and we scrambled to get our elephant veterinarians on a plane to Bihar to try and save her. But she’d finally given in to the agony and passed away. Her captors had fled — leaving the poor elephant to spend the final agonizing hours of her life alone.
Her name was Laxmi. Though she had been relatively young, she was weak and her bones already brittle; the veterinarians ascribed it to a degenerative skeletal or metabolic disorder, likely the result of extreme malnourishment. Laxmi had been stolen from the wild, wrenched from her mother and her herd as a baby and denied any chance at a life of freedom as a wild elephant. In the decades that followed, Laxmi was trafficked illegally across India under the guise of a traveling circus until her debilitating disease rendered her useless to her owners.
It breaks our hearts to know we could not reach her in time, but we believe that she deserves justice —even if she never saw a single day of freedom. Please let the Chief Wildlife Warden of Bihar know that illegal trafficking, neglect, and severe abuse of elephants like Laxmi is intolerable, and a precedent must be set. Demand justice for Laxmi.