Friday, August 21, 2009

P.S. on pachyderms

Another lucky elephant, this one in Thailand. She’s the recipient of a permanent artificial limb. Here’s what happened.

Ten years ago, Motola, now 48 years old, stepped on a land mine while working in a logging camp near the Myanmar border. She lost her left front foot and part of her leg. Happily for her, in 1993 a group called Friends of the Asian Elephant had opened the Elephant Hospital in northern Thailand. That’s where she was cared for.

The hospital has treated thousands of elephants – and well it should, because the numbers of domesticated pachyderms has dropped from 1950’s 13,400 to about 2,500 today.

For the last three years, Motola wore a temporary device aimed at strengthening her leg muscles and tendons and getting her fit for the permanent prosthesis. Then, earlier this month, she took her first tentative walk with her newly installed artificial leg.

If – as she was photographed doing -- grabbing dust with her trunk and spraying it into the air conveys happiness, then Motola is recovering well.

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