Activism

Published on July 29th, 2009 | by Jace Shoemaker-Galloway

7

Crippled Baby Elephant Chhouk: Now Walking and Running on Prosthetic Foot

Asian Elephant and Baby

Several years ago, orphaned baby Chhouk was found wandering alone in the forest without a foot.  The endangered Asian baby elephant apparently lost his left front foot due to injuries sustained from a poacher’s snare.

Rescued in a remote area of northeastern Cambodia, the injured elephant was transported by truck to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in what turned out to be a very difficult and treacherous 26-hour journey.  Besides being severely malnourished, his stump was badly infected and nearly 5 inches of infected tissue was removed.  Balance issues and severe strain made walking on three feet nearly impossible.

Asian Elephants

According to the ICUN Red List, Asian elephants, Elephas maximus, are endangered. Due to habitat loss and poaching, it is estimated only a few hundred of the Asian elephants exist in the wild in Cambodia.  Asian elephants can live up to 60 or 70 years.

Chhouk’s Long Journey

This video was taken in 2008, prior to Chhouk’s new foot:

After being cared for by specialists since his rescue, the young elephant has now been fitted with a prosthesis.  The Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) headed the project to fit the baby with a brand new foot.  Although the foot needed some tweaking and repairs along the way, Chhouk can now walk and run with the new design.

While many caring people were involved in the elephant’s rescue and recovery effort, Nick Marx, director of the Wildlife Alliance’s Cambodia Rescue Center, wrote, “However we must not forget the character and determination of the patient also.  A lesser spirit might not have survived the ordeal.”

Due to his injuries, he can never be released back into the wild.  Chhouk and an older female elephant at the facility, Lucky, are now the best of pals.  In good health and as happy as a horse, Chhouk and Lucky spend their days frolicking in the pool and enjoying life.

Image Credit: Asian elephant and baby photo courtesy of SuperJew via Creative Commons license.




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About the Author

Until recently, Jace worked for her local school district teaching technology and Internet safety to young children. Today, Jace is a busy fulltime freelance writer. Although the majority of her work focuses on parenting, children, technology and environmental concerns, she is also passionate about issues concerning animals. As a former newspaper columnist, Jace's work can be seen both online and off. While most of her day is spent writing, she also works as an online safety educator and most importantly, a mom.



  • SuperJew

    Hello,

    One of the images you’re using in this post was originally uploaded by me to Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asian_Elephant_and_Baby.JPG) under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license.
    According to this license you are allowed to share and/or adapt the work, so long as you attribute the work to the original author (in this case me – SuperJew) and distribute under the same or similar license.

    I would very much appreciate you crediting me and would like to thank you for choosing to use my image (it is one of my favorite ones).

    You can see more of my favorite and best photos here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:SuperJew/Image_Gallery

    Yours,
    SuperJew

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Hello, SuperJew.

      The credit is actually at the bottom of the post. Would you like us to move it up into the image caption (that’s how i’ve started doing them)?

  • kjackson

    This is a great story! Another elephant was fitted in Thailand using a casting system developed by a Chicago-based organization (http://www.cirnetwork.org) which does not use plaster. There’s more information on the elephant and the procedure available here:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Prosthesis-for-Elephant-Injured-by-a-Landmine/ and here: http://maic.jmu.edu/journal/13.1/notes/jackson/jackson.htm

  • Joyce

    When I get thinking people suck, I read this story, once again my faith in humanity returns…..

  • http://mallch.in mallchin

    Cool story but the video was a let down; I wanted to see the happy elephant walking on his new feet.

  • David

    So where’s the picture of the prosthetic foot?

  • http://www.derekmartin.ca Derek Martin

    I hope nobody shoots that elephant just to steal his cool prosthetic! It happens to teenagers in Detroit all the time, and they ain’t got no ivory!

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