As they stand together, tall and regal, their trunks swaying gently, occasionally testing the wind or offering each other a reassuring pat, it makes it almost impossible to imagine that Mia and Sita have only been free elephants for four months. They seem calm and carefree, content to bask in the warm sun and in the comfort of each other’s company.
Up till about four months ago, Mia and Sita were circus elephants- beaten into submission, forced to carry out painful performances, often starved and neglected. Their lives were miserable, and their only consolation came from each other, and a third elephant Rhea, as the three shared in each other’s pain and comforted each other through the worst of their suffering.
In November 2015, we managed to pull together all the paperwork required to bring Mia and Sita to our rescue centre, to provide them the better life they deserved and the immediate medical attention they so badly needed. It broke our hearts to know that Rhea would be left behind, even as we promised that we would not rest until we were able to reunite her with her two companions. After four months of pushing, we are just short of one last permit to bring her home to safety, and we can’t wait to see the girls together again. We’re sure if Mia and Sita knew she was coming soon, they would be trumpeting with joy!
One of the main reasons we rescued Mia and Sita, even before we could pick up Rhea, was because these two elderly elephants were in desperate need of medical attention, and we were extremely worried that they would not survive the delay, were we to postpone the rescue.
Their harrowing life before rescue left them in a state of abject physical and mental distress, but over the last few months, the dedicated efforts of the vets and keepers at ECCC have had a significant effect on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Sita is currently undergoing ultrasound therapy for ankylosis, the stiffness of the elbow joint in her right forelimb. It is believed that Sita suffered a fall during her time in the circus, and the damage incurred during the accident was left untreated, resulting in a painful fusion of the bones in the joint. The ankylosis needs to be treated before any intensive footcare can be carried out on Sita, whose nails are painfully cracked and whose footpads are quite swollen. Till then, she gets regular medicated foot-soaks in warm water to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by the swellings and cracks.
Mia seemed to be faring slightly better than her companion, and the veterinarians have begun treating her overgrown footpads, and the painful abscesses she developed on her feet, through regular footbaths and pedicures. Unfortunately, a recent x-ray of her foot showed that Mia is suffering from septic osteitis, causing her acute discomfort, and she is under treatment for the same.
Both elephants are also being given regular painkillers, antibiotics and nutritional supplements to keep them healthy and speed up their healing process.
The girls are fed a healthy meal of nutritious vegetables and delicious fruit, of which their favourite are papayas and bananas. Together, they go on short walks, but their exercise is limited to avoid putting unnecessary stress on their legs. They have been provided with posts in their enclosure to use for support, and Sita uses a specially-created sand bed to assist her when lying down to rest.
Their condition is slowly progressing and the vets and staff at ECCC are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure their new life is as happy and pain-free as possible. We can’t wait for Rhea to make it to ECCC to be reunited with her best friends, and to be a part of their (and her own) recovery!
You can play a critical role in Mia and Sita’s care, by sponsoring them here. You can also donate to Rhea’s rescue, and help us bring this wonderful elephant to her herd, to share in their new life by following this link.