Zara begins her Healing Journey at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital!

June 25, 2020 | By Mahima Sharma

For a weak, emaciated elephant, dragging herself through the day, with the overbearing weight of a carrier, will no longer be the cause of her misery. Her frail structure held testimony to the life that she lived as a begging elephant moving from pillar-to-post. We now call her “Zara” which means princess – something that she rightly would have been, in her herd in the wild, in the forest but the evil clutches of illegal poaching snatched that joy from her and pushed her into a lifetime of captivity.

Owing to Zara’s rapidly deteriorating health, primarily affecting her joints, her owner was unable to meet her urgent medical needs. The nationwide lockdown imposed, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the primary cause for Zara’s owner not being able to begin her medical treatment. As soon as relaxations were levied, he was determined that his elephant would live a better, healing life under the care of Wildlife SOS at the Elephant Hospital situated in Mathura. The Elephant Hospital opened its gates for Zara’s arrival and to provide her with the necessary medical treatment that would give her the relief she rightly deserves!

Zara carefully stepping off from the Ambulance ramp, assisted by our team. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

When Zara arrived at the Elephant Hospital, the fresh air and the unfamiliar whiff of her lush green surroundings made her cautious as well as anxious.

Zara’s first steps to freedom – a life away from neglect and abuse! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

As a begging elephant, Zara’s interaction with her own kind was limited, or perhaps, not known at all. Alighting from the ambulance’s ramp, that had a mud-ramp in continuation for her to easily step down, she stepped into the Elephant Hospital for preliminary medical examination.

Zara at the Elephant Hospital, munching on juicy watermelons that she took a quick fondness too! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

At just the tender age of 21, Zara has developed a serious case of osteoarthritis that has seriously affected her forelimbs and compromised her posture and gait. Her right forelimb in particular, is damaged, along with an inflamed elbow joint that is the main reason of the slight limp that she has, as she walks.

It is heart-breaking to imagine that with such a seriously compromised leg, how she survived all these years of abuse? It is clear Zara has an unfathomable amount of strength and will power. Zara also has a wound on her left elbow and shoulder, which will be regularly cleaned and dressed with antiseptic ointment, for quick recovery.

Her joints, however, are of serious concern and the veterinarians will be conducting X-Ray as well as a complete blood report to assess the exact condition and seriousness of her limbs. Zara will be administered joint supplements and anti-inflammatory ointment for relief.

Zara enjoys her first bath and loved playing with water! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

An elephant’s body weight is in 60% to 40% ratio wherein the forelimbs take the most weight as compared to the hindlimbs. Which is why injuries or issues with the forelimbs always take a longer time to heal. For our veterinarians, it is Zara’s right forelimb that is the primary cause of concern. Zara presently weighs 1970kgs, which is visible in the distinct, protruding shape of her spine that stands for her malnourishment. To everyone’s relief, her vision is proper and she is slightly anxious about her new surroundings, which is why the elephant care staff and our veterinarians are giving her the time that she needs.

Her delicate and torn footpads will be regularly cleaned and dressed to give her relief from her pain. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]
Her toenails are overgrown and ridden with abscesses, that need urgent medical attention. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Even in her pain and discomfort, Zara appears to have a zeal for life as she was quick to take a liking for her bucket of watermelons and splash her trunk around! Her enclosure is equipped with mud beds for her support to take the weight of her legs and for her to rest. However, our curious Zara just wishes to look around her enclosure and watch her neighbours, our resident pachyderms.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Rahul, treating Zara’s shoulder wound. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]
Treatment for her abscess-ridden cuticles and overgrown toenails. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

While Zara has been on a tiring journey emerging from her past life and taking small steps into her new one, we request everyone to keep her in your thoughts while our team of veterinarians, elephant care staff and the staff present at the Centres and the Hospital work dedicatedly for her comfort.

No longer will she be paraded around on hot tarmac roads, no more would her meal be a few stalks of dry grass and bananas, no further will she be tethered to a confined, concrete space pushing to break-free!

As our fragile and battered Zara comes home, we request you to shower her with your support and love by making a monthly donation or becoming her sponsor by clicking here, to be an intrinsic and inseparable part of her life with us at Wildlife SOS!

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