CHON BURI – Baby elephant Clear Sky – who lost part of her foot in a snare – is learning to walk again thanks to a unique rehab centre outside Bangkok, Thailand.
The six-month-old is the first elephant to receive hydrotherapy at an animal hospital in Chonburi province, a few hours from Bangkok.
The goal is to strengthen the withered muscles in her front leg, which was wounded three months ago in an animal trap laid by villagers to protect their crops.
The wrinkly pachyderm, who has has tufts of jet black hair sprouting on top of her head, limps around the pool before her swim.
“By her fourth or fifth sessions she will enjoy swimming more. She’s just a baby, that’s why she’s a bit scared at first but, by nature, elephants love the water,” said Vet Padet, an elephant handler.
“She is still a bit nervous and scared of the water. But is she can do this regularly she will have fun.”
The treatment could take up to two months with the goal being to strengthen her withered muscles in an injured front leg.
Clear Sky was snared three months ago in a trap laid by villagers, who found her after she became separated from her mother.
“We named her Clear Sky Up Ahead, because that is what she will need while she is with us,” zoo director Kampon Tansacha said.
Elephants are treasured as a national symbol in Thailand, the first country to open a hospital for the animals several decades ago.
But rapid development, habitat destruction and a thirst for ivory has seen the population of wild elephants plummet over the past century to an estimated 2,500.
The country is also home to some 4,000 domesticated elephants, which are used to power a lucrative animal tourism industry that activists say is rife with abuse.
By Ju Apilaporn