India’s first elephant hospital opens in the state of Uttar Pradesh near Delhi.
The elephant hospital, run by the charity Wildlife SOS, will treat gentle giants rescued from captivity and injured in accidents. This is a milestone not only for Wildlife SOS as an organization, but for injured and ailing elephants all over India, who can now get the care and love they need in a state-of-the-art facility.
It is estimated that there are about 3000 elephants in captivity in India.
It started when the charity got a call in 2008 to help an elephant that had met with an accident in the state of Uttar Pradesh. They went into full action mode immediately. At the time, this incident would prove to be the starting point for mapping out a new direction for Wildlife SOS.
Since then, the charity has rescued 26 elephants from heart-breaking conditions from circuses and temples, and from street begging and highway accidents, with the help of State Forest Departments, and brought them to their centers for short-term medical treatment and long-term rehabilitation — and a lifetime of love and care. Some of these facilities are the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura, and the Elephant Rescue Centre in Yamunanagar.
Every rescue reveals the distressing state of elephants: weakened bodies from lack of proper nutrition, their delicate feet are wounded, sore and hurt, they are socially isolated and psychologically traumatized, many have ongoing medical problems that have been left untreated for years.
Sometimes they need emergency care after accidents with trucks or cars while working along busy highways and roads. Even after rehab, these elephants remain dependent on humans for their day-to-day activities, which is why a dedicated team of veterinarians and trained staff at the charity works 24/7 to care for the rescued elephants and to reassure them that they are at a safe place. Over the years, the charity has have evolved in their understanding of the issues these elephants face, and have gained experience in lifelong care of elephants.
The new jumbo hospital has the capability to conduct a variety of important laboratory tests for the elephants. It has wireless digital radiological capabilities, ultrasound, laser therapy, an in-house pathology lab, and a medical hoist for comfortably lifting disabled elephants and moving them around the treatment area. There is also a digital weighing scale, a protected-contact elephant restraining device, a hydrotherapy pool, and quarantine enclosures. All of this will enable regular check-ups as well as out-of-routine treatments.
The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital has ample storage space for elephantine quantities of life-saving drugs and veterinary medicines, critical equipment such as portable X-rays, ultrasound machines, foot-care tools, and so on. Certain procedures and treatments require overnight observation, so he hospital is equipped with special quarters for this purpose as well as additional staff and closed-circuit, infrared cameras for veterinarians to observe their wards.
An observation deck was built into the hospital so that elephant-care practitioners and students can observe and learn about elephant treatments from a perfect vantage point. Their goal first and foremost is to provide the best treatment for elephants in Asia, but they also aim to make the Elephant Hospital instrumental in this field, spreading knowledge on topics like elephant-care best practices, humane elephant management, and cutting-edge veterinary procedures. The staff wants this to be a place of healing as well as a place of learning.
It goes without saying that the establishment of the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital is a big leap for rescued elephants, but also for the cause of Asian elephant conservation.