An Update On Nina’s One-Month Progress

July 5, 2021 | By Mahima Sharma

Quietly walking around her enclosure and taking relaxing dust baths, the past one month has been life-altering for Nina, to say the least. One month ago, Nina’s life was completely different; an anxious, ailing elephant who had just arrived at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital, with a host of chronic issues causing her discomfort and pain.

Her preliminary medical assessment was grave and our veterinary team was shocked to see how this brave elephant mustered the courage to survive the ordeal she did! Her ankylosed hind limb is not only the cause of great pain and discomfort to her, but it has also permanently affected her gait. Our elephant care staff observes the slow, steady steps she takes, by tracing her trunk on the ground before stepping ahead.

Nina's thermal imaging examination revealed the grave inflammation in her hind limbs.
Nina’s thermal imaging examination revealed the grave inflammation in her hind limbs. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

After spending a week under intensive care at the Elephant Hospital,  Nina was shifted to her enclosure. The spacious field is equipped with high mud beds which are at Nina’s disposal for rest and recuperation. While she rests and sleeps only at night, it took her nearly 3 weeks of consistently standing up and resting before she finally decided to lie down. It is common for elephants to nap or rest while they are standing, but they do lie down and rest according to their convenience and comfort.

Nina peacefully resting in her field in the wee hours of the morning!
Nina peacefully resting in her field in the wee hours of the morning! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Nina now rests through the night, while lying on the edge of her mud bed with her trunk comfortably rolled up in a self-comforting manner. She occasionally opens her eyes and moves her trunk around whenever she senses a movement, and then drifts back to sleep. It very important for Nina to get sufficient amount of rest  as it enables  her treatment and the medication that she remains under, to work to its full efficacy.

She undergoes daily sessions of laser therapy which expedites healing at a cellular level. What keeps our dear Nina stable and calm during these intensive therapy sessions is the steady supply of fresh watermelons, papayas and cucumbers! She is clever to identify immediately when the carved cucumbers have her joint medication loaded into them, but will have them regardless.

Her X-Ray revealed the ankylosed joint in her hindlimb.
Her X-Ray revealed the ankylosed joint in her hindlimb. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Nina also received ice fomentation for the inflammation along her spinal region, which is treated regularly. In the hot summer weather, the ice plays more than just a therapeutic role but also gives her immense relief from the heat. The examination of her foot pads is still a challenge due to her weak limbs and she is unable to lift her foot with ease, however our veterinary team sprays a solution which protects her foot pads from maggot infestation and infections.

Caught in all her glory, Nina taking a relaxing dust bath!
Caught in all her glory, Nina taking a relaxing dust bath! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shresatha Pachori]

Graceful and docile in every way, Nina takes mounds of mud and showers herself with it for most part of the day. She will slowly walk to the shaded area of her enclosure during the peak hot hours of the day and fill her trunk with water from the water trough to splash it all over herself. Her caregiver watches over Nina very carefully, especially since she is still getting used to the corners of her enclosure, which is why he is always leading the way for her.

An elated Nina - look at her expression!
An elated Nina – look at her expression! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shresatha Pachori]

Since Nina continues to be under intensive care and treatment, our veterinary team is planning on introducing her to one of our resident herds eventually.  Understanding that Nina startles easy, the elephant care staff and veterinary team do not wish to put her through any stress. She lives on her own presently, walking around the field at her own pace, with the soft mud substrata spelling relief for her ailing limbs.

For Nina’s geriatric needs and sensitive condition, she will need to be slated under intensive care and therapy for her limbs. You can play an important role in this journey that she undertakes with Wildlife SOS, by considering to become a monthly donor or a sponsor.

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