Friday, September 2, 2011

World's First Elephant Hospital in Thailand

Soraida Salwala opened the World’s First Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand in 1993 to treat elephants that are ill or injured as a result of work, abuse or neglect. To date, she and her staff have treated over 3,000 elephants for everything from eye infections to knife wounds, gunshot wounds, broken bones, drug addictions and building prosthetic limbs for the survivors of landmine accidents.

When Soraida Salwala was a young girl, she and her father happened upon an elephant that had been hit by a car. She wanted to take "Uncle Elephant" to the hospital; when her father informed her that there was no hospital for elephants, she was heartbroken. In 1993, Soraida realized a lifelong dream to create a hospital for elephants. The Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand, is the first of its kind in the world.

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Photo Thilo Thielke / SPIEGEL

Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital assists in medical care and helps to promote a better understanding of the elephant's physiology, important in treating them for illness. For generations elephants have been a part of the Thai culture, although today the Thai elephant mostly is domesticated animal, since Thailand now has few working elephants. Many are used in the tourism sector at special elephant parks or zoos, where they perform in shows. In some cases Thailand is still deals with roaming elephants on the city streets, usually after the mahout, an elephant driver, becomes unemployed, which often causes the elephant serious stress.

Official website


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Photo Thilo Thielke / SPIEGEL

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The founder of the first elephant hospital in the world, Soraida Salwala, before the elephant Motala. (Photo Thilo Thielke / SPIEGEL)

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Boon Mee an 11 year old elephant suffers from a severe wound on his front foot from a land mine injury at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve on August 28, 2011 Lampang, Thailand.

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A mahout tries to disinfect Boon Mee's wounded foot with some iodine at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve on August 28, 2011 in Lampang, Thailand. Boon Mee, 11, suffers from a severe wound on his front foot from stepping on a land mine near the Burma border 10 months ago and still needs daily medical care and cannot lay down.

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Kittiya, a Veterinarian student at Chiang Mai University shakes de-worming powder on Boon Mee's wounded foot at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve on August 28, 2011 in ampang, Thailand.

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Daw Boon gets his intravenous fluids adjusted by a mahout while suffering from a stomach virus at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve on August 28, 2011in Lampang, Thailand.

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Mokay Dee,19, is treated for her infected stomach wound by a team of mahouts along with Kittaya (Center) and Suchada (right) who are both volunteer Veterinarian students from Chiang Mai University at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve on August 28, 2011 in Lampang, Thailand.

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Mokay Dee,19, is treated for her infected stomach wound by Kittaya (Center) and Suchada (right) who are both volunteer Veterinarian students from Chiang Mai University at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve on August 28, 2011 in Lampang, Thailand.

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A mahout removes the prosthetic from Motala, age 50, at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve August 29, 2011 Lampang,Thailand. Motala lost a foot many years back after stepping on a land mine and now is on her third prosthetic, as they need to be changed according to the weight of the elephant.

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Motala, age 50, stands in the afternoon sun with the new prosthetic made for her at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve August 29, 2011 Lampang,Thailand.

Photos by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images via Avaxnews

4 comments:

  1. I thought you might be interested in the film "The Eyes of Thailand" which helps bring attention to the plight of elephant landmine survivors in Asia. In fact, Motala is one of the stars of this film.

    Take a moment to check it out on IndieGoGo and also share it with your friends. All the tools are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make 'Help Finish The Eyes of Thailand Film' happen.
    http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Eyes-of-Thailand-Film?i=emal

    Plus, if you donate $100 you also have a chance to WIN a 14 day trip to Thailand!

    Please post this link to your facebook page and help spread the word. You can also join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/eyesofthailand

    Thank you!

    Jessica DeLine, Associate Producer

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  2. I knew a out the hospital but not the story behind it. Thank you!

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  3. I just love animals! And another news… I just found out that Manila Zoo has a cute elephant named Mali, and she is the only elephant in the Philippines! She has lived there for almost all of her lives, for more than 30 years. The zoo should feel like her sweet and cozy home now. But then, I read some articles in PETAAsiaPacific.com, and I noticed that Mali is in fact sad and lonely! Look at her here: https://www.facebook.com/FreeMali. She is like a prisoner, who cannot spend her days with her friends, roam in vast territories, and have delicious adequate food! She even suffers from foot problems. Why does she deserve this? :( Please Help Her!

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  4. I've been to this wonderful place but how long can they withstand the temptation of the ivory cash cow ? The poverty is unbelievable.

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