One Month Into Zara’s Journey With Wildlife SOS!

July 25, 2020 | By Mahima Sharma
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Taking timid steps into her new surroundings, a month ago, Zara walked out of the Elephant Ambulance and straight into our hearts! Her largely compromised gait and her frail structure spoke volumes on how she was in dire need of medical attention. Ailing elephants that come to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital spend their initial few days getting acclimatised to the new space, the fresh smells, and the insurmountable amount of love and care they receive from our elephant care staff. However, Zara was quick to take to her surroundings as she walked into her enclosure and lifted her trunk in delight and relief, understanding the softness of the mud underneath her ailing and exhausted feet.

Zara’s preliminary medical examination brought to light the serious condition of her limbs, as she suffers from a severe case of osteoarthritis, particularly affecting her forelimbs. She has an ankylosed right elbow joint on her forelimb, which might be the result of an untreated fracture that she must have sustained in the early days of her life. Ankylosis is a joint condition that causes immobility and stiffness in the limbs due to permanent diffusion of bones. Owing to her diffused joint, her gait will be permanently affected, prominent in the way she walks, ever-so-tenderly. In spite of the discomfort that she suffers due to her degenerative joint condition, Zara cooperates during treatment with utmost patience and a steady supply of her favourite watermelons!

A paste of turmeric and zinc oxide is used for Zara’s footpad abscesses to expedite healing of her torn tissues. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Currently, she is receiving laser therapy treatment for her forelimbs to expedite healing at a cellular level. The abscess on her right footpad is being treated with a paste of antiseptic ointment made out of zinc oxide and turmeric to provide her relief, along with broad spectrum antibiotics and pain management medicines. The wound on Zara’s left elbow and shoulder is also showing remarkable signs of healing but the progress remains slow as she sleeps on her left side.

Zara sleeps well through the night and gets up with ease without the support of her mudbed! [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

While her physical wounds and chronic abscesses are regularly being attended to, it is of utmost importance that she gains strength internally and her immunity improves which is why she is administered joint supplements, immunoboosters as well as liver tonics.

In the past month, we have seen a timid elephant, despite her glaring wounds, gradually get in touch with her true being. Of all the things that she is understanding in this new life of hers, the most delightful part is the time that she spends in her enclosure indulging in luxurious dust baths – taking trunkful of mud and throwing it all around her!

Zara spent over an hour in the river Yamuna and was completely enjoying herself in the water! [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

On her first excursion to the Yamuna riverside, she was surrounded by an aura of joy and relief as she took careful steps into the cool water, balanced out perfectly with the warm sunlight. What unfurled next was a relaxing dip and the refusal to step out of the water, which called for the perfect opportunity for our elephant care staff and veterinarians to take care of Zara’s forelimbs.

Zara enjoys splashing around in the water as it gives her limbs relief and cools her down in the summer months! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

As she is unable to bend her forelimbs, the toenail trimming, which is an extremely important routine in elephant footcare, was becoming a torrid task for both Zara and our veterinarians. This is why, a new strategy was formulated and understanding Zara’s love for the riverside, her toenail trimming session took place on the soft riverbank. With trimmed toenails, Zara was able to walk easier and the veterinarians were able to render medicated footbaths to treat her cuticles and allow the skin around her toenails to heal.

The toenails on her forelimbs were trimmed by the riverside for Zara’s comfort! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Zara’s love for watermelons is unparalleled, and she gladly munches on around 20kgs of watermelons every day. The veterinarians are very careful in allowing her weight gain in such a way that her existing joint condition is not worsened. She also munches on raw bananas and sorghum fodder, and has been introduced to enrichments for the very first time! Her hanging feeder enrichment allows Zara to exercise her back, neck and trunk muscles as she stretches out to pick up sorghum fodder and the pieces of jaggery well-hidden inside the stack of fodder.

Zara’s keeper dotes on her and is always there to comfort her, especially during treatment. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

At the young age of 21 years, Zara needs your support to be able to heal under our care at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital. We urge you to become a monthly donor for Zara and play an intrinsic role in her journey with us!

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