elephant cries
Some experts believe elephants cry when overcome by emotions. Getty Images

An elephant who was chained and subjected to abuses in Uttar Pradesh, India, for 50 years has wept tears while he was being rescued.

Raju was captured by a drug addict who did not feed him and left him in spiked chains, causing the animal painful and permanent wounds.

The elephant, captured when he was a young calf, was left without any food. He eventually resorted to eating paper and plastic to placate his hunger.

Raju was released by a wildlife charity during a midnight operation on Thursday. As he was being rescued, he started crying.

"The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was so incredibly emotional for all of us," Pooja Binepal, from Wildlife SOS UK, said. "We knew in our hearts he realised he was being freed.

"Elephants are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals, who have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what torture half a century has been like for him," Binepal continued.

Some experts believe elephants cry when overcome by emotions.

According to Mark Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, "While scientists are not 100% certain, solid scientific research supports the view that elephants and other non-human animals weep as part of an emotional response."

Kartick Satyanarayan, the charity's co-founder, said Raju's abusive owner tried to block the activists from freeing the animal.

"We stood our ground and refused to back down – and as we did so, tears began to roll down Raju's face.

"Some no doubt were due to the pain being inflicted by the chains, but he also seemed to sense that change was coming.

"It was as if he felt hope for the first time in a very long time."

Rescuers took Raju to the Wildlife SOS elephant sanctuary in Agra, Northern India.

The charity has launched a campaign to raise £10,000 to help Raju start his new life.