A life-changing moment for Motola the elephant and a significant advancement for injured animals worldwide.
Ten years after losing her foot and most of her left leg to a landmine, Motola took a confident step forward with her newly-fitted, state-of-the-art prosthetic limb.
The 48-year-old elephant embraced her first walk with the artificial leg, cautiously stepping out of her enclosure, using her trunk to toss dust in the air playfully.
Soraida Salwala, the founder of the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand, expressed satisfaction with Motola’s progress, noting that she had already walked around twice. Although not yet bearing her whole weight on the prosthetic, Motola is adjusting well.
The devastating accident occurred in 1999 when Motola was working at a logging camp near the Thai-Burmese border, an area littered with landmines due to decades of civil war.
When her owner let her forage for food in a nearby forest, she inadvertently stepped on a landmine, leading to the amputation of her severely damaged leg.
Over the past three years, Motola has been using a temporary device to strengthen her leg muscles and tendons in preparation for her permanent prosthesis.
The fitting procedure utilized enough anesthesia to render 70 people unconscious and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Prostheses Foundation, known for creating artificial limbs for human amputees, crafted Motola’s new leg.
Her treatment occurred at the world’s first Elephant Hospital in northern Thailand, established by Soraida in 1993.
The facility has cared for thousands of elephants suffering from various ailments, including eye infections and gunshot wounds.
Wild and domestic elephant populations have faced drastic declines due to modernization. While the number of elephants used in industries such as transportation and logging has dropped from 13,400 in 1950 to 2,500 today, the only expanding sector is tourism, where elephants are utilized for trekking.
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