First elephant hospital home draws tourists

Mathura | Updated on November 19, 2018 Published on November 19, 2018

Vets take an X-ray of a leg of Phoolkali, a female elephant, at the Wildlife SOS elephant hospital   -  REUTERS

At the country’s first hospital for elephants in Uttar Pradesh, 49-year old Asha placed her left foreleg on a stool for a doctor to attend to an injury while visitors filmed it all on their mobile phones.

The facility has wireless digital X-Ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, tranquilisation devices and quarantine facilities. It has not only come as a respite to the elephants but is also attracting local and foreign tourists.

The hospital is spread over 12,000 sq ft and is designed to treat injured, sick or geriatric elephants.

“I think by building a hospital we are underlining the fact that elephants need welfare measures as much as any other animal,” said Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, the non-profit behind the hospital.

“That captive elephants are not meant to be used and abused but instead have to be given the respect which an animal needs if you are going to be using the animal.”

A better home

The country’s elephant population fell 27,312 in 2017 from 29,391-30,711 in 2012, government data shows.

The hospital, on the banks of the Yamuna River, is close to an elephant conservation and care centre run by Wildlife SOS that is home to 22 elephants.

Elizabeth Ritson, a tourist from Australia, said she was glad there was now a dedicated hospital for elephants in India.

“Look at them, they are so much happier and when you see the abuse that they have been through, the shackles that were put on their feet and to see them all healed up, it’s just really nice,” she said.

Published on November 19, 2018
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