Mathura, Sep 22 (IANS) Animal lovers on Friday celebrated Elephants Appreciation Day at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation Centre in Mathura during which a jumbo buffet was organised for the pachyderms rescued from a life of suffering at human hands.

Tables were lined with fresh green fodder, and tubs of juicy fresh fruits were emptied over them and scattered about to form a huge buffet of their favourite fruit treats – watermelons, bananas, muskmelons and pumpkins.

The excitement was high and visible as powerful trunks manoeuvered expertly over the tabletops tossing leaves about and stuffing as much into their mouths as possible.

The Elephant Care Centre, bordering Agra’s Sloth Bear Sanctuary, across the Yamuna, is the first of its kind in India and currently has 20 elephants that were rescued from illegal captivity and circuses where they were ill-treated and subjected to cruelty.

Many of them were forced to work hard in harsh, deplorable conditions, which in turn had taken a toll on them both physically and psychologically. Wildlife SOS provides a safe sanctuary to elephants requiring long term medical care and rehabilitation.

Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said: “Each of these elephants has been rescued from shocking circumstances… they were subjected to extreme cruelty and decades of suffering.”

“We wanted to show our delightful elephants exactly how special they are to us and how much we value and cherish the chance to be a part of their lives.”

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.