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Treating Elephants with Osteopathy in Northern Thailand



Cheltenham osteopath Tony Nevin used his trip to the Far East for a very different purpose – to cure elephants of muscle pain.


The 47-year-old father-of-two travelled to the north of the country for an historic project to help the giant animals recover from injuries.

“A lot of these elephants have had a very rough time and many of them have been banned from the streets,” said Mr Nevin, of Alstone Croft.

“We are trying to improve the life of elephants who are in captivity.

“They are in need of the care and it was a privilege to be able to work so closely with them.”

The trip was the first elephant osteopath visit in the country’s history.

The eight elephants, which weigh about four tonnes, formerly worked in the teak industry.

But they were made unemployed in 1999 when the government banned the export of the wood.

And after a law to bar them from towns and cities was passed they were taken in by the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

Tony Nevin has been providing osteopathic care for animals and birds, ranging from cats, dogs, and horses, through to zoo and wild animals, for over 20 years.

Mr Nevin spent a fortnight with the charity, which is based near the borders with Laos and Burma, at the beginning of June. One of his patients was Pepsi, a bull elephant, with a tusk wound to his leg. It was unable to move the limb, but Mr Nevin, who usually treats humans and domestic pets, treated it to reduce the swelling and remove some of the fluid.

Another was Dah, a female elephant with behavioural problems and muscle pain.

He said: “The whole treatment was charged with emotions.

“As she let all of her physical tensions go I was overwhelmed with a huge sense of grief, but not my own. My throat felt choked up, and I couldn’t speak properly.

“For the first time I saw her facial muscles relax around her mouth and she began to feed herself whilst I was still working on her.”

Before leaving the camp he ran a workshop to teach the elephant keepers techniques to help treat the animals. Much of the visit was captured on camera and the moving moments could be turned into a television documentary.

Dr. Tony Nervin’s Services in the UK

Donate to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation click here


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