A Tale of Two Special Elephants

I am back from my mini-vacation and ready to roll out some new posts!  Thanks to all for the well-wishes!  I had a wonderful weekend with a special friend.  A few hours after getting home, unloading car, and relaxing a bit, I decided to see what was new on some of my go-to news sites.  Sigh.  I wish I were still on vacation.  Nothing good, nothing encouraging.  Today, as I try to transition back to the “real world”, I think I will save politics, the refugee crisis, Brexit, the Austrian election, and the Baghdad bombings for just a bit later and write about something I read that both touched my heart and made me smile.

Mosha was only seven months old when she lost her leg to a landmine in Thailand near the border with Myanmar.  Mosha was fitted with a prosthetic leg, but because she was so young, of course she kept growing and it wasn’t long before she had outgrown her prosthesis and needed a new one.  Mosha is now 17 and was just fitted for her ninth artificial leg!


Mosha gets a new leg!

Oh … did I mention that Mosha is an Asian elephant?  When she first lost her leg in 2006 she weighed around 1,300 pounds, and she now weighs in at over 4,000 pounds!  Even at that, she is still relatively small, as the average Asian elephant weighs approximately 11,000 pounds!  Mosha was the first, but not the last, elephant to receive an artificial limb.  After stepping on the landmine, Mosha was not recovering well, refusing food and shunning the company of other elephants.  Veterinarians at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Thailand feared she would die soon.

But then a chance meeting with Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, who runs a clinic for human amputees, led him to create unique leg for her.  The leg, made from plastic, sawdust and metal, has been specially designed to cope with Mosha’s weight and allow her to move as freely as other elephants.


Motala gets a new leg

Another Asian elephant, Motala became the second prosthetic patient in 2009.  Motala lost her leg in 1999, also from stepping on a land mine.  Motala has not adapted to her artificial leg quite as well as Mosha, perhaps because of the 10-year period that she was without a leg, or perhaps because she is older than Mosha by about 40 years.

Eyes of Thailand is the short (2:44 minutes) trailer for a documentary that was made in 2012 showing Motala being fitted with her artificial limb.  If you have a couple of minutes, it is very touching and heart-warming … I think you will enjoy it.


Dr. Therdchai Jivacate with Mosha

Since opening in 1999, the Friends of the Asian Elephants Hospital has treated 15 elephant landmine victims.  Motala and Mosha would not likely be alive today were it not for the hospital and Dr. Therdchai Jivacate.  Dr. Jivacate did more than just create an artificial limb that allowed Mosha and Motala to survive, but he created an affordable artificial limb.  Before I tell you how much these prostheses cost, let me tell you that here in the U.S., an artificial human leg costs around $20,000.  So now, take a guess … you’ve seen the pictures … guess what Mosha’s leg costs?  You are not going to believe this.  $30 USD, or €27.  Yes, folks … he made the leg using discarded yogurt containers, sawdust and metal, and it is lightweight, comfortable, and cheap, which is important in a country where the average worker earns around $2 per day!

elephant paradeStill, keeping the elephants safe and healthy carries a cost.  In 2006, father and son Marc and Mike Spits were on vacation in Thailand and just happened to meet then-baby Mosha.  Inspired and wanting to help in some way, they created Elephant Parade, an open-air exhibition dedicated to saving the Asian elephant from extinction.  Elephant sculptures are donated by artists and after the display are auctioned by auction houses such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s.  Proceeds go to the Asian Elephant Foundation.  Motala and Mosha’s home, Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital, was the first organization to receive funding from the Elephant Parade held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2007.  Since then, the exhibition has been held in Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, Copenhagen, Milan, Singapore and other venues.  Supporters of the cause include such notables as former London mayor Boris Johnson, Sarah, Duchess of York, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Goldie Hawn, Khloe Kardashian, Katy Perry, Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Fürstenberg, Paul Sorvino and many others.elephant parade3

I found this video  on YouTube that is fun, showing Mosha with her artificial leg and the trainers trying to get her to climb a little hill, and then get her back in the pen.

My “two-thumbs-up” this week goes to Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, Elephant Parade, Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital and its staff, and to Mosha and Motala!  See folks, there is a lot of good in the world … sometimes you just have to open your eyes and get past the garbage in order to see it.

elephant parade2elephant parade5


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