By Mark Hodge @mrhodgey
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The elephants, named Rhea, Mia and Sita, have been saved from a torturous existence by animal conservationists Wildlife SOS who have re-homed them in their sanctuary in Mathura in Northern, India.
But while her two friends were rescued last October, Rhea remained stranded at the circus until now because of problems with her paperwork.
The 53-year-old Asian elephant was poached as a calf and sold to the circus by traders.
Poor Rhea was beaten and starved into performing uncomfortable and painful tricks.
At the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, the elephants are given veterinary care of the highest standard, ensuring that they can retire in peace and comfort.
Co-founder of Wildlife SOS, Geeta Seshamani, described the genuine love the animals have for each other.
She said: "Elephants are highly intelligent, sentient beings, and form extremely strong bonds with others of their kind.
"Although Mia, Sita and Rhea were not related by blood, in every other way, they were each other's family, so it was heart wrenching to have to leave one of these three girls behind, and we had to ensure we returned for her as soon as possible.”
Rhea was transported 2,800km from Tamil Nadu, in South East India, to her new home in Mathura, where she was greeted by staff and her two lifelong friends.
Fellow Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan said that the animals were delighted to see each other.
He added: “It was fantastic to witness natural elephant behaviour and hear the vocalisations of the elephants as they greeted each other.
“Amidst the squeals of excitement and trunk holding that ensued, we could not help but feel honoured to have been part of this reunion.
“It was overwhelming that we had brought these gentle giants back together as a family.”
To get involved and help the thousands of captive elephants who have not yet been given freedom, please donate by visiting wildlifesos.org/donate.
For more information about Rhea and Wildlife SOS, visit wildlifesos.org or facebook.com/WildlifeSOS