Chhouk, our young disabled male elephant, was recently fitted for a new prosthetic foot. We have been working with The Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) for over 10 years now and they continue to work hard to provide Chhouk with the most innovative shoes around! This new model is 2-3kgs lighter than his previous shoes! The new shoe quickly got Chhouk’s approval and he was running around his enclosure within minutes of trying on the new shoe!
Chhouk was found in 2007, at less than a year old, wandering alone in the forest in Northeast Cambodia. He had not only lost his foot to a poacher’s snare, but he was also gravely ill from the infected wound and severely malnourished. To gain his trust, our rescuers cared for him in the forest for two weeks before transporting him to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center where specialists were able to heal his wounds. Unfortunately, Chhouk’s lower leg had to be amputated but was replaced by a prosthesis from CSPO, which has changed his life completely. Our elephant keepers have trained Chhouk using only reward based positive reinforcement in order to effectively change his prosthetic leg. He is the first elephant in Cambodia to receive a prosthesis and is celebrated as a successful rescue story. Asian elephants are nearly full size at 15 years old, but continue to grow in size and weight until they are around 20-25 years old! At this rate, Chhouk will continue to outgrow his prosthetic legs, but thanks to the diligence of his keepers and CSPO, Chhouk won’t let his disability slow him down!
We also recently commissioned a statute of Chhouk made entirely from poaching snares removed from Cambodia’s forests. This new statue will be placed on permanent exhibit at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. This is the second statue we have commissioned of Chhouk, the first now proudly displayed in Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment office. The poignant statue will help us to continue to spread awareness about the devastating effects of snares and the deadly consequences for Cambodia’s wildlife.
You can help care for Chhouk and ensure he continues to get new prosthetic legs as he needs them by sponsoring him monthly!