Creating A Safe World For Ginger At Wildlife SOS!

January 11, 2022 | By Roohi Narula

In the cold month of December, the Wildlife SOS Rescue team set upon an arduous journey to the city of Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to rescue a blind and geriatric pachyderm. The team had received intel about the horrific abuse being inflicted on this frail pachyderm being used for begging. The elephant was being forced to live in a world where she was a mere commodity, her every movement being dictated by the whip of a bullhook. Determined to free her from the shackles of abuse, the Wildlife SOS team drove through the night to get to the elephant. Fondly called Ginger, this gentle soul has now been at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital Campus for a month. During this time, Ginger has slowly started healing emotionally and physically and begun living happily in a world that prioritizes her dignity and freedom. 

You can follow Ginger’s rescue Journey HERE!

Ginger was used as a begging elephant before being rescued by Wildlife SOS [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak]

When Ginger first arrived at the hospital, our veterinary team was horrified to see her deteriorating physical condition. Apart from being blind, malnourished, and severely dehydrated, Ginger’s body bore various signs of torture. She was covered with multiple septic abscesses, her footpads were shredded thin, her right elbow had a hydroma and both her hind legs were plagued with degenerative joint disease. Her physical state made it clear that Ginger had been neglected all her life and the veterinarians began to wonder if her blindness too was a product of this negligence and malnourishment. Her mental scars too were evident as the geriatric elephant was always anxious and on alert, refusing to sleep through the night and only getting rest through short naps. 

Ginger’s crippled condition disheartened everyone at Wildlife SOS [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak]

The Wildlife SOS Veterinary team immediately got to work, providing Ginger with ongoing and intensive medical care. Initially, to hydrate Ginger, she was given fluid therapy. She was also given laser therapy which helped manage the pain in her aching joints. Throughout this one month, our veterinarians have continued such intensive medical care. Recently, while examining Ginger’s footpads our vets even took out some stones and nails that had latched onto Ginger’s feet during her time as a begging elephant where she walked hot unnatural surfaces all day long.

Ginger receives laser therapy at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital Campus [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak]

Another important aspect of Ginger’s care has been providing her with a balanced and nutritious diet that can give her some much-needed strength. While in captivity Ginger was barely fed, surviving on some dry fodder or whatever else her captor could procure. In this past month with Wildlife SOS, Ginger got to experience a burst of flavors for the first time. Currently, Ginger’s diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables like papaya, cucumber, and bananas. Ginger’s favorite however is the juicy papaya that provides her with a delightful sugary taste! Ginger is even given a dry porridge – a mix of rice, finger millet, and pulses. A seasonal addition called ‘mashala’ is also being added to her diet this winter season. Mashala is essentially a concoction of jaggery, carom, and turmeric that helps our elephants fight cold and easily digest food. 

Ginger’s caregiver feeding her fresh fruits to help her gain strength and build trust with her [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak]

During this time, our care team has not only paid attention to her physical condition but also her mental state. We wanted Ginger to create a new world where she felt safe and free. Thus, in between all the medical care Ginger was receiving, the Wildlife SOS care staff took Ginger on her first walk of freedom next to the Yamuna river. No longer bound by the cruel chains that once restricted her movement, Ginger experienced the simple pleasure of being able to stroll for leisure. With mother nature blessing her with a soft cool breeze, Ginger came to life. The otherwise calm, reserve and almost stoic pachyderm began walking at a speed previously unseen and displayed a curiosity that we didn’t know existed in her. With the soft grass caressing her torn footpads, Ginger sniffed the water and felt the myriad of leaves that surrounded her. 

Ginger goes on her first walk of freedom [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

To sprinkle a little more love and happiness into Ginger’s life, our care team even organized a jumbo feast for her on the occasion of Christmas. Giant stockings were stuffed with fresh popcorn for Ginger to munch on. Gift boxes were meticulously wrapped and filled with treats such as watermelons. These Christmas enrichments were hung from tree branches to push Ginger to use her natural foraging ability and discover them. They even helped provide Ginger with a sense of control over her food. Ginger tore apart her gifts and gobbled all the treats with so much joy that even the Wildlife SOS team watched and smiled from ear to ear. 

Ginger celebrates her first Christmas at Wildlife SOS [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak]

Yet, the biggest milestone in ginger’s slow-moving healing journey came as we welcomed the new year. Since her arrival, Ginger’s slept only for small periods. Unable to comprehend her new safe life, Ginger remained on alert always anticipating another lash of her bullhook. Yet, as Ginger started absorbing all the love being showered on her and began feeling safe, she slept uninterruptedly through the night for the first time. Our care team built mud mounds for her with the support of which Ginger drifted into a lazy stupor, hopefully dreaming about sweet nothings. Her relaxed demeanor told us that Ginger had finally begun embracing this new world where she was not a commodity but an elephant in all its glory. As her loud snores reverberated throughout the center, at the oddest of hours, our team knew that this is now Ginger’s world and we are just living in it.

Sleeping uninterruptedly, Ginger has finally started feeling safe [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Suryoday Singh Mann]

You can help Ginger feel loved and safe by sponsoring her care!

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