Holly is a charming, old elephant with a joyful spirit. Five years ago, she was finally freed from a harsh lifetime of begging. Enduring neglect and hardships for 60 long years, she arrived at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital Campus (EHC) in a state that required urgent focus on her health. Today, Holly depicts how steadfast friendships, along with a peaceful and comfortable environment, can steer the overall healing of an elephant.
It was in the winter of 2018 that Holly stepped into EHC as a blind elephant facing a myriad of health challenges. Her hindlimbs emitted an unusual sound when she walked, and her gait was abnormal, hinting at underlying issues. Upon a thorough examination, restricted joint movements, severe arthritis, untreated abscesses, and septic wounds were detected. Holly’s frail body made prolonged malnutrition evident, and she struggled to withstand the weight of her ailments.
Taking cognisance of Holly’s emaciated condition, the team first crafted a meticulous diet plan for her nourishment. This included sugarcane, seasonal fruits, fresh vegetables, and a protein-rich snack made from finger millet flour. Fearful and wary of her new surroundings, Holly would remain in the close company of her caregiver. With tender gestures, Holly’s caregiver fed her bananas and watermelons while nursing her, so that the pachyderm could revive her energy levels.
Gradually, Holly began to settle into her new environment, and the veterinarians at the hospital focused on devising a multifaceted treatment plan for Holly’s physical ailments. Regular topical medication and laser therapy became routine to tend to her chronic wounds. The severity of Holly’s arthritis had her struggling to walk long distances, and she would even prefer to sleep standing up. Watching her in such discomfort was a heartbreaking sight. To alleviate the pain in her limbs, Holly was introduced to regular hydrotherapy. The buoyancy of the water was a relief to her exhausted limbs. Water became a source of solace for Holly, and she would often nap peacefully while immersed in it.
Over the course of five years under dedicated attention, Holly has undergone a massive transformation. Despite her severely affected gait, Holly’s walks, slow and measured, have indicated the building of strength and immunity. To make her excursions easy on the pachyderm, she is encouraged to walk within her enclosure. Her devoted caregiver and the team at EHC plough the mud in her field to ensure that Holly experiences no pain while foraging the greens.
Being a geriatric elephant, Holly receives persistent medical attention and tender care. Holly has been administered oral supplements to enhance her overall well-being. The caregiver is mindful of her needs and keeps track of her daily behaviour. This significantly helps the veterinarians to understand her requirements, and conduct regular examinations.
While summers see Holly taking several dust baths and spending ample time in the pool, an organised set of preparations are made in winters to ensure that our pachyderms pass the season of dwindling temperatures smoothly. Curtains, tarpaulin sheets, and a tin shade for their enclosures act as barriers against the chilly winds, while halogen lamps are placed strategically to provide warmth at night. Given the elephant’s struggle with chronic arthritis, fluctuations in weather can exacerbate the pain in her joints. Daily massages, and a special masala including jaggery and turmeric is added to her diet during these days, boosting the much-needed heat in her body.
The elephant’s experience at EHC goes beyond physical healing. Constant interactions with her closest companion Kalpana has brought serenity to her mind as well. Kalpana, was warmly welcomed by Holly in 2019, and has emerged as her pillar of strength for her. Their tight bond defines the extraordinary cognitive abilities of elephants. A single trumpet from Holly is all it takes for protective Kalpana to rush to her aid! The pachyderms are often found bathing and throwing water at each other inside the pool within their enclosure. For Holly, the joy of being in Kalpana’s friendly company is what she most looks forward to.
Holly’s healing captures the essence of what we aspire to achieve with each of our elephants at EHC. Her calm and composed nature perfectly complements her impressive inner strength to overcome ordeals she faced in her past, which has truly been inspiring to witness. As we celebrate Holly’s fifth rescueversary, we urge you to contribute towards her geriatric care and welfare by making a donation.