An Asian elephant who lost his foot to a snare trap when he was just a year old is able to walk, run and swim after being fitted with prosthetics.
Chhouk, who is now 11 years old, had his foot amputated when he was caught in a poacher’s snare trap and was found severely malnourished with a dangerously infected wound.
The orphaned animal was taken in by the Wildlife Alliance, a conservation organisation in Cambodia. It partnered with a UK-based group, Paradise Wildlife Park, that has been helping to fund the prosthetic foot.
The prosthetic is made out of recycled rubber and needs changing roughly every six months as the elephant continues to grow in size.
Cam Whitnall, 27, who runs Paradise Wildlife Park and Big Cat Sanctuary with his family, shared photos and video footage of Chhouk’s latest prosthetic being fitted, and said: “It’s amazing – you can’t help but smile.
“It’s a really special moment, to see what we’re helping to conserve and help, not just Chhouk but all over the world. It’s the best feeling in the world to help animals.
“The level of care that he gets is brilliant and he has a great life now. There’s no better feeling.”“It’s a really special moment, to see what we’re helping to conserve and help, not just Chhouk but all over the world. It’s the best feeling in the world to help animals.
“The level of care that he gets is brilliant and he has a great life now. There’s no better feeling.”
The elephant was first rescued as an infant from the Srepok Wilderness Area in Mondulkiri in 2007. His infected foot was treated by rescuers and Paradise Wildlife Park rehabilitated the animal.
Changing the prosthetics is no easy task for park rangers, Mr Whitnall explained, saying they have to use food as a bribe to get him to wear it.
“They use food and a clipping mechanism to get him to turn and adjust his body and are then able to give him a thorough look over to make sure there are no issues,” he explains.
The footage of Chhouk wearing a prosthetic leg shows him lifting his leg up to put his foot inside the large prosthetic. He also walks with the prosthetic while swinging his trunk.
Mr Whitnall said that Chhouk’s room overlooks the enclosures of the lion and lemur and the elephant gets “quite noisy at night”.
One prosthetic weighs approximately 20kg and costs roughly £1,200 a year to maintain, Mr Whitnall said.