An Update On Emma’s One-Month Progress At Wildlife SOS

February 11, 2021 | By Mahima Sharma

Following a whirlwind rescue operation to get Emma to safety at the start of the new year, we are  thrilled to celebrate her first month of freedom!

Emma was forced to walk from one village to another by her owner. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Having embarked on a forty-hour long journey to reach the Elephant Hospital, our priority was to ensure that Emma got a sufficient amount of rest. To make her comfortable inside the hospital, our team arranged gunny sacks for her to use as pillows! Emma rested on the gunny sacks and almost immediately fell asleep as our veterinary team prepared for her initial medical check-up at the Hospital.

Emma resting on the gunny sacks prepared for her in the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital.
Emma resting on the gunny sacks prepared for her in the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment to provide Emma the high-quality care she deserves. An X-ray examination of her feet revealed that there were foreign bodies embedded deep in her footpad, dangerously close to her bones.

An image of the embedded foreign bodies and debris in Emma's forelimbs.
An image of the embedded foreign bodies and debris in Emma’s forelimbs. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

As a first, Emma’s footpads were disinfected properly before the extractions started in which we recovered rusted nails, shards of broken glasses, sharp stones, pebbles and metal scraps! The condition of her footpad was deplorable and she often flinched in her sleep during these, but our elephant care staff comforted her all through.

A stone being extracted from Emma's hind limb's foot pad.
A stone being extracted from Emma’s hind limb’s foot pad. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

In the past month, our veterinary team has managed to extract all debris and foreign bodies embedded in her footpads. In the aftermath, there are gaping holes, infected wounds and thin, injured footpads that will require intensive care and treatment. This primarily includes a combination of medicated foot baths, topical application of medication and covering with elephant booties along with laser therapy massages which expedite healing at a cellular level especially in cases of arthritis.

Emma's foot pads being covered with a paste of glycerin, Epsom Salt and turmeric.
Emma’s foot pads being covered with a paste of glycerin, Epsom Salt and turmeric. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Emma continues to lift her forelimbs alternatively, in the anticipation of pain and discomfort but being the intelligent pachyderm that she is, now cooperates during treatments. She particularly loves the lukewarm medicated foot baths as the warm water brings her much relief. Emma never received foot care which is precisely why her toenails were overgrown and cracked to a point that she has developed calluses, making it very tough for her to bear weight.

Emma feels much relief to her ailing limbs as she walks on soft grass.
Emma feels much relief to her ailing limbs as she walks on soft grass. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

She is being administered oral medication for her arthritic limbs along with joint supplements which will help restore the lost strength in her limbs. After recuperating at the Hospital for a few days, Emma was ready to be shifted to her new enclosure, now that her mandated quarantine period has been completed. For now, Emma resides in the enclosure next to Maya and Phoolkali at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre. The elephant care staff is observing how Maya-Phoolkali react to Emma’s presence and when would be the correct time to introduce them to each other.

We removed the last reminder of her painful past life - the earring.
We removed the last reminder of her painful past life – the earring. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Emma’s diet included dry grass, which was insufficient for her nutritional needs and put her at serious risk of colic. Today, as she recovers under our care, she munches on fresh green fodder, succulent leaves of sugarcanes, tender tree branches, watermelons and her favourite, cabbage. She carefully examines apples and cucumbers, as our vets often hide medicines in them, before gulping them down.

Emma loves these long naps under the warm winter sun.
Emma loves these long naps under the warm winter sun. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

We are learning more aspects about her personality as time passes by – whether it is her curiosity for everything, her endless love for tender tree branches, the unmatched joy of hiding in the lush green bushes of the Yamuna riverside or her naps. Emma is indeed a special elephant, whose mental health stands largely compromised, for which she will require long-term dedicated care. We urge you to support our efforts in providing a safe haven to Emma and the love she deserves, please consider becoming a monthly donor or a sponsor for her. Your contribution will play an important role in her healing journey.

To honour this brave pachyderm’s journey, Wildlife SOS organized a webinar as she completed one-month. You can watch it right here as Wildlife SOS co-founder and CEO discusses behind-the-scenes during Emma’s rescue journey, her path and plan for recovery.

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