A month into Luna’s healing journey at Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital

March 5, 2019 | By wildlife@dmin

Luna had an incredibly challenging journey to the Wildlife SOS (WSOS) Elephant Hospital for her long-term treatment. She was in excruciating pain and was extremely weak, so much so that our team had to work on the ground with her for a couple of weeks to help her gain some strength before she hit the road to Mathura. Despite this, the severe inflammation in her feet would render her unable to get up after she laid down to rest. A crane would then have to be arranged as soon as possible to provide her with additional support and help her get back on her feet. However, this abused pachyderm showed remarkable courage and resilience as she embarked on this healing journey.

Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Ilayaraja administering Luna with laser therapy.

It was obvious that Luna was suffering through immense pain in her feet, however, the gravity of the condition was revealed to us when our veterinary team performed diagnosis at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital. Using portable X-ray and thermal imaging camera, our team was able to map out the extent of osteoarthritis in her hind legs. Luna is also suffering from compensatory lameness as she avoids bearing weight on her right hind leg due to severe inflammation and strained muscles on the limb. From the first day of her arrival at WSOS Elephant Hospital, our veterinarians are administering Luna’s hind legs with cold laser therapy to bring her much-needed quick relief to her inflamed muscles and battered feet.

Stones found embedded in Luna’s foot soles.

Poor body conformation has also contributed towards the deformation of Luna’s footpads that are thinning from some areas and over-growing from other. This vastly affects her gait, making it awkward. This deformation is chronic, however, regular trimmings of her cuticles and nails from the veterinarians will help prevent her condition from worsening. On one such pedicure sessions, our veterinarians found sharp stones embedded inside the soles of her foot. With utmost care our team removed these stones and cleaned these old wounds with anti-septic solution. Her foot sole injuries are regularly cleaned and dressed with antibiotic ointments to prevent any further infections.

Painful oedema developed at Luna’s perianal region.

Several prominent injuries cover Luna’s body. She has painful oedema in her perianal region, which is a source of constant discomfort to her. As such, to bring her temporary relief, our team carefully drained the fluid in her tissues and she has also been put on a mild dosage of diuretics to prevent the accumulation of water in her tissues again. The chronic ulcers on her body too are cleaned and dressed regularly with anti-septic ointments to aid the healing process, and have been responding well to the treatment. The healing of her ulcers will be a slow process as she often lies down on her sides for prolonged times. We hope that with dedicated care, the ulceration on her body will steadily heal.

Wildlife SOS veterinarian, Dr. Pramod, dressing Luna’s ulcer.

An important component of Luna’s treatment has been managing her diet while also ensuring that she loses weight. Luna weighs above the ideal weight for her small stature that adds pressure to her arthritic joins. A strict and special diet has been crafted to ensure that Luna gets essential nutrients to help strengthen her immunity, but also prevents her from putting on additional weight. She has also been put on liver strengthening tonic, multivitamins and supplements to help her gain bone density. Building her immunity is essential to her recovery.

Luna resting on her soft-mud bed.

Having spent the greater part of her life under constant physical and mental stress, our team was determined to provide Luna with as much comfort as possible. Soft mud-bed is prepared for her everyday with gunny sack support structure close to her feet. Even though she is given pain killers to ease out her pain, but some days are just too hard for her. As such instead of immediately mobilizing the crane to help her stand up, our team lets Luna rest for a while and calm down. The crane is only used when her keeper is reassured that Luna is feeling better.  It is ensured by the team that Luna spends as much time as possible on the soft mud so as to avoid mechanical stress on her feet. Luna enjoys her dusty surroundings and throwing mud on herself. Watching Luna enjoy these little light moments does fill our hearts with hope that there is optimism in her.

Luna munching on some freshly sourced sugarcane.

Life in captivity was not easy for Luna and it left her with a lifetime of pain and suffering. We hope that with dedicated care and kindness, Luna will finally have the comfortable life that she deserved since her childhood. She has a long, tough journey ahead of her and we hope that you will continue to root for her!

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