You’re never too big for a prosthetic.
Ten years ago, an elephant working in an illegal Thai logging camp near the Burmese/Myanmar border stepped on one of the many landmines still buried in the area. As a result, she had to have her left front foot amputated. The surgery required a world record-setting amount of anesthetic drugs — enough for 70 grown men. According to JodysJungle.com, the resulting wounds took so long to heal that the initial prosthetic leg planned for Motala wasn’t able to be used.
On August 15, the 48-year-old, three-ton elephant (who is a resident of the world’s only elephant hospital set up by Friends of the Asian Elephant, or FAE) was fitted with a new, permanent prosthetic leg, reports the Associated Press. Motala’s first walk with the new leg lasted about 10 minutes and she celebrated by tossing dirt in the air.
Motala isn’t the first elephant to receive a prosthetic leg. Another resident of FAE’s elephant hospital, Mosha, took that title two years ago as a baby. Soraida Salwala, Founder and Secretary General of FAE, told Paw Nation that she is pleased with Motala’s progress, saying it’s a good sign that she’s already putting weight on the new leg. Motala has been wearing a temporary prosthetic for the last three years to prepare her for the permanent prosthesis.
Salwala, however, is still concerned about Mosha, saying, “The most worrisome issue is Mosha’s other leg, which is deformed. We are increasing the calcium so her bones will be strong enough to hold her body weight.”
The Prostheses Foundation, a company that also makes artificial limbs for humans, provided the artificial limbs for both elephants free of charge. But that doesn’t mean it was easy to fit a three ton animal with a peg leg.
“The process of making [the prosthetic leg] was the same [for both elephants], but for Mosha, it was more difficult because she would not stay still,” Salwala told Paw Nation. “We have already made three prosthetic legs for Mosha since June 2008, and many adjustments during the past 14months. For Motala, we prepared her well with the pre-prosthetic device, so when the big day finally came, she did not reject it and was happy to walk out of her shelter dusting and eating grass as normal.” A video of Motala walking on her new leg after the jump.
We hope both gigantic tripods continue to move forward at a steady pace.