Chhouk, an 11-year-old Asian elephant, has defied the odds and regained his ability to walk, run, and swim thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic leg.
Having lost his foot to a snare at just one year old, Chhouk’s journey to recovery showcases the resilience of wildlife and the impact of conservation efforts.
Finding sanctuary with the Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia, Chhouk received support from the UK-based Paradise Wildlife Park, pivotal in funding his prosthetic foot.
Crafted from recycled materials, including repurposed tires, this innovative prosthetic has transformed Chhouk’s life and set a remarkable example in animal welfare.
Cam Whitnall, the 27-year-old proprietor of Paradise Wildlife Park and Big Cat Sanctuary, is passionate about global animal welfare causes.
Reflecting on Chhouk’s transformation, Cam shared, “It’s fantastic – you can’t help but smile.
It’s an extraordinary moment to see what we’re helping to conserve and support, not just in Chhouk but worldwide. It’s the best feeling in the world to help animals.”
This isn’t Chhouk’s first prosthetic; it’s the latest series supported by Paradise Wildlife Park over the past five years.
Due to Chhouk’s ongoing growth, a new prosthetic is required every six months, a process efficiently managed by a university in Cambodia.
Keepers use treats to facilitate seamless prosthetic swaps, ensuring Chhouk’s stump is kept clean to prevent infections.
Crafted from recycled rubber and secured with Velcro, each prosthetic weighs around 20kg. Cam Whitnall explained, “They use food and a clipping mechanism to get him to turn and adjust his body and are then able to give him a thorough look over to ensure there are no issues.”
Funding these prosthetics incurs an annual cost of approximately £1,200. Cam personally experienced a unique connection with Chhouk when he visited Cambodia at the end of the previous year.
In the encounter, Cam said, “In the video, I’m pretty smiley for a good reason – it’s not every day you get to see and help an elephant like that.”
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