Pachyderm in peace

Zara, the handicapped elephant arrives at the Elephant Hospital In Mathura, established by Wildlife SOS with support from U.P. Forest Department.

At a very young age, Zara was subjected to a lifetime of abuse and neglect as a begging elephant. Though only 21 years of age, she is already suffering from severe osteoarthritis, stunted growth, and deteriorating health conditions due to the exhausting routine that she was subjected to. She would be tethered to a concrete, confined space and had no freedom to move around, thus, putting more strain on her tired and fragile limbs.


Her toenails are overgrown and ridden with abscesses, that need urgent medical attention


Owing to Zara’s rapidly deteriorating health her owner was unable to meet her urgent medical needs. When Wildlife SOS decided to bring her to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, massively delayed her arrival. As soon as relaxations were levied, Zara’s journey started and she arrived for treatment and care at the hospital campus.


Zara taking her steps out of the specialized Wildlife SOS Elephant Ambulance


India’s very first Elephant Hospital in Mathura was established by Wildlife SOS with support from U.P. Forest Department in November 2018 and has provided advanced veterinary care for several ailing elephants.


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. As a begging elephant, Zara’s interaction to 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 outside the Elephant Hospital


Weighing only 2000 kilograms, the elephant is highly underweight and in poor health, which is visible in the distinct, protruding shape of her spine that stands for her malnourishment. A preliminary veterinary assessment carried out by Wildlife SOS veterinarians has revealed that Zara is suffering from severe foot ailments, abnormal forelimb conformation, and early onset of osteoarthritis which has compromised her gait and posture. Her right forelimb, in particular, is damaged along with an inflamed elbow joint that is the main reason for the slight limp that she has, as she walks.


She 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-Rays as well as a complete blood report to assess the exact condition and seriousness of her limbs. She will require long term care and specialized treatment along with other medical procedures like Laser Therapy, Hydrotherapy treatment, Digital Radiology, Thermal Imaging, etc.


Wildlife SOS vets conducting an Xray of Zara’s leg

It is heart-breaking to imagine that with such a seriously compromised leg, how she survived all these years? It is clear Zara has an unfathomable amount of strength and will power. 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 off her legs, and for her to rest and she also has access to a pool as water is quite therapeutic for ailments such as arthritis.


Zara enjoying watermelons outside the Elephant Hospital


She requires a stress-free environment and a lot of medical attention with round-the-clock care to help her on her path to recovery. Under the dedicated care of our veterinarians, Zara can finally get the medical attention she needs and deserves.


About the Author /

Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a non-profit charity established in 1998 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India. We actively run wildlife and nature protection projects to promote conservation, combat poaching & illegal wildlife trade. We work in partnership with the Government and indigenous communities to create sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities. The Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center was established in 2010 & houses over 20 elephants with elephant care facilities.

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