Elephants are majestic animals, proven to be intelligent, empathetic and loyal. Unfortunately around 4,000 live in captivity in India where they are used to work in the tourism trade and religious ceremonies.
The cruelty begins when young elephant calves are removed from their mothers to start the process of having their spirits broken so they will be ‘’tame’’ for humans to use as their will, a practice which started thousands of years ago.
One Green Planet reports:
“Baby elephants are taken from their mothers at a very young age, usually three to six years old, but often younger. After a young elephant is in the captivity of its handlers, the aim of the Phajaan program is to break its spirit. Babies will be kept in small crates similar to those found in the intensive pig farming industry. Their feet will be tied with ropes, their limbs will be stretched, they will be repeatedly beaten with sharp metal and other tools, they will be constantly yelled and screamed at, and they will be starved of food. Bull hooks (a tool used in most forms of elephant control) will be used to stab the head, slash the skin and tug the ears.”
Not surprisingly, this usually results in submissive behaviour from the elephants. These elephants often end up with various medical conditions primarily related to years of captivity living in these horrendous circumstances. For this very reason, Wildlife SOS founded the first elephant hospital in India. The non-profit organisation, now the largest in South Asia, has been rescuing wild animals across India since 1995.
The first ever elephant hospital in India was opened by Wildlife SOS in 2018 and after just a few months have already rescued and treated 26 elephants. All were removed from abusive tourist attractions, including circuses, temples, riding camps, and private owners.
Once checked into the hospital, the elephant gets a thorough examination by one of the center’s veterinarians. Most are in poor condition due to years of neglect and malnutrition. The hospital was specifically designed to treat injured, sick and geriatric elephants and offers everything the veterinarians could possibly need to diagnose and treat their patients.
Equipped with portable radiology and ultrasound machines, laser therapy, in-house pathology lab, specialist foot care tools and a medical hoist for lifting disabled or sedated elephants around the treatment area. For regular check-ups, there is a jumbo-sized digital weight scale, laboratory testing and a hydrotherapy pool.
The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital also has infrared cameras enabling veterinarians to observe the elephants throughout the night.
Patients receive the highest quality of care and plenty to eat, especially bananas. Once they have recovered, the elephants retire at one of Wildlife SOS sanctuaries in India: the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura or the Elephant Rescue Centre in Yamunanagar.
Employees and volunteers at the Wildlife SOS organization are optimistic that the hospital will raise awareness of the plight of elephants in India and other South-East Asian countries.
Watch the video below to learn more: