Paul McCartney interrupts Olympics rehearsal to plead for Sunder
After hearing about the plight of a young elephant who has been beaten and is kept in chains, music and vegetarian legend Sir Paul McCartney broke from rehearsals for his performance at the London Olympics to send an urgent letter to Indian Forest Minister. He called on the minister to use his power immediately to rescue the little elephant, named Sunder.
“I have seen photographs of young Sunder, the elephant kept alone in a shed at Jyotiba Temple and put in chains with spikes”, wrote McCartney. “Years of his life have been ruined by keeping him and abusing him in this way and enough is enough. I most respectfully call on you … to get Sunder out.”
McCartney’s plea follows PETA India‘s discovery that Sunder was being abused by his handler (or mahout), who has gone on the run from police since the group became involved. Sunder has sustained a severe injury to his right eye from being jabbed in it with an ankus (a sharp, hooked metal poker-like weapon) by the boy handler. The elephant is also confined to chains with sharp spikes and is kept alone inside a dark shed, in which he cannot even take a single step in any direction. Sunder is denied all that is natural and important to him and lives in fear. There are lesions all over his body, indicating past beatings by the handler.
A scandal is growing over the way some elephants used in Indian temples to represent the Hindu god Ganesha are being housed and mistreated. Frequently controlled through beatings and prodded and gouged in sensitive areas behind their knees and ears with an ankus, they languish without veterinary care for even serious conditions, sustain leg injuries and are fed unsuitable food. Many elephants at Indian temples also show signs of severe psychological distress, such as swaying, head-bobbing or weaving – behaviour not found in healthy elephants in nature. The lack of exercise and the years spent standing in one position on hard concrete amid their own waste lead to painful and crippling foot ailments and arthritis.