It’s been around two weeks since Priyanka arrived at the safety of the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, Mathura, giving us some time to really get to know the delightful new elephant in our care.
She seems to be taking her time settling in at her new home, and is still a little cautious when approached by new people, but this is completely natural for an elephant that is new to the centre, and we’re happy to give Priyanka all the time and space she needs to ease into her new life and surroundings. The one thing she seemed to have no trouble getting used to, however, was her delicious new diet of fresh sugarcane and barseem along with daily servings of delicious fruit and vegetable. We even discovered that she loves peanuts, picking up trunkful after trunkful of the treats and blowing them into her wide open mouth with a light pattering noise!
Our smart girl has realized however that her daily feeding of cooked concentrate bolus (a healthy mixture of rice, horse gram, jaggery and pulses) contains her deworming medicines and the tonics prescribed by the veterinarians. Priyanka’s preliminary urine, blood and faecal tests revealed that she has degenerative anemia due to a severe iron deficiency and other mineral deficiencies, although luckily she seemed to be free from any endoparasitic infections, despite the mite infection in her ears and trunk. To combat the issues and help her begin her recovery, the veterinarians prescribed medication, tonics and supplements which were added into her cooked concentrate in an attempt to make them more palatable – but she absolutely refused to consume the bolus so long as it contained the medicines – even when we added her favorite peanuts to the mix! Eventually we managed to get her to take them by hiding them in fruit, even though she did suspiciously sniff at them with her trunk before consuming them.
The supplements are exceptionally important as the malnutrition she has suffered her entire life has resulted in such a weakened immune system and brittle bones, that it is essential that she regain her strength in order to begin healing. Her bones were so weakened by the neglect of her past that preliminary x-rays indicated that she has broken toes in both her hind limbs, corresponding with the overgrown nails on her feet that would have put undue pressure on the weakened bones as she trudged for hours on roads as a captive elephant.
Although the weather has gotten a little too cold to be conducive to time in the pool, Priyanka did take an interest in the water, curiously dipping the very tip of her trunk into the water, tentatively testing the water before engaging in a long bathing session, sucking up water into her trunk and tossing it over her head and back, and even spraying water between her forelegs.
Captive elephants often suffer severe psychological distress as a result of their abuse in captivity. A major part of their healing comes from their interaction with other elephants, a process of bonding and recovery that is incredibly heartwarming to observe. We have gradually begun introducing Priyanka to the other elephants in a protected and carefully monitored setting to see which elephants she is most inclined to herd with, and which herd is most accepting of her. So far, she seems to have taken quite well to our wonderful elephant Laxmi, and we are gradually getting the two acquainted in the hopes that Laxmi and her herd of Chanchal and Bijli will welcome Priyanka into their family for the most beautiful part of her recovery.
You too can be a part of Priyanka’s family and contribute to her recovery by becoming a monthly donor to her care. You can do so at this link.