‘India’s Skinniest Elephant’ Found in Captivity on Brink of Death, Until Rescuers Bring Her to Care Center to Heal

BY Epoch Inspired Staff TIMEMarch 12, 2022 PRINT

An emaciated elephant calf in India was being held by neglectful owners and was on the brink of death. Looking like skin and bones, she suffered from extreme malnourishment—until a community of caring animal activists came to the rescue.

When a pro-animal rights individual, Mr. S. Jain, reported witnessing the terrible state Lakshmi the elephant was in, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department intervened and rescued the calf from her captors. While authorities sought legal repayment for the neglect, she was brought to Wildlife SOS, the country’s largest wildlife rescue organization.

Lakshmi has since become known as “India’s Skinniest Elephant,” while her mistreatment resulted in a host of health problems.

Epoch Times Photo
Lakshmi prior to her rescue. (Courtesy of Wildlife SOS)

The young elephant was around 25—30 years of age, but her terrible health, due to abuse, made her weak and unable to walk well. Some of the severe malnourishment and neglect she suffered resulted in lameness, arthritis, chronic abscesses, and degenerative joint disease—all of which caused her to have bent knees, abnormal spinal protrusions, and limb deformations.

The court sanctioned Lakshmi’s recovery at the Wildlife SOS’s Elephant Hospital and Conservation & Care Centre in Mathura, North Central India, where she would be cared for by veterinarians specialized in treating elephants.

(Courtesy of Wildlife SOS)

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Wildlife SOS)

“The elephant’s abnormal posture and handicap requires long-term medical treatment with monitoring,” Wildlife SOS veterinarian Dr. S. Ilayaraja told The Epoch Times. “Presence of painful abscesses on hips and wounds on her ears have been caused by ankush (bull hook) and indicate cruelty and severe abuse.”

She was then taken to Chhatarpur in Central India for specialized treatments for elephants in recovery. That included laser therapy, digital wireless radiology, and thermal imaging.

“Since her arrival at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital Campus, Lakshmi has been under intensive medical care wherein the veterinarians give her laser therapy for her joints, massaging of anti-inflammatory medicine, painkillers, and other supplements to make her stronger,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, CEO and co-founder of Wildlife SOS.

Epoch Times Photo
Lakshmi receiving laser therapy treatment. (Courtesy of Wildlife SOS)

(Courtesy of Wildlife SOS)

Lakshmi’s recovery is being facilitated by a special diet that the veterinary team has put together. She will receive the right nutrition while she gains a healthier weight.

“Under the care of Wildlife SOS, Lakshmi has gained about 300 kilograms since the time of her rescue,” Kartick said. “However, the veterinarians are making sure that her weight doesn’t increase too drastically as her limbs are too fragile to bear the weight of her body.”

According to Kartick, Lakshmi is making strides toward a recovery, which includes walks, taking dust baths, and bonding emotionally with her caregiver.

Although the elephant’s journey has taken a positive turn since her captivity, she can become anxious sometimes, due to post-traumatic stress from past abuse. Yet the consistency and care provided by those with well-meaning hearts, her elephant specialists, has kept her on a steady path, allowing her body and spirit to grow stronger by the day.

Epoch Times Photo
Lakshmi recovering at her new forever home. (Courtesy of Wildlife SOS)

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Epoch Inspired staff cover stories of hope that celebrate kindness, traditions, and triumph of the human spirit, offering valuable insights into life, culture, family and community, and nature.
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