Chhouk is a playful and mischievous young boy who is always on the move! He is missing his front left foot, but that certainly doesn’t slow him down! He was found by an organization called WWF when they were conducting a study of wild elephants. He was only about 2 years old and was wandering alone without a herd. As this is highly unusual they got closer to him to investigate, and found that he was missing the bottom of his foot! As there were no burn marks it was determined that it was not a land mine, but rather a snare that had caught this poor little guy. He must have been stuck for such a long time for his herd to have moved on without him. He was underweight and afraid, and his foot was badly infected. Our director Nick Marx stayed with him for 10 days sleeping in a hammock and feeding him highly nutritious foods to ensure he was in reasonable condition to transport him to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. Once he arrived it became clear that though he could walk on his leg after it had healed it was quite obviously uncomfortable, and being unbalanced was beginning to affect his spine. Nick approached the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthodics to ask if they would consider trying to build a prosthetic foot for Chhouk. This had never been done with a young elephant, and there was some skepticism as to if it would work at all. Thankfully they agreed to try, and using the same techniques they would use to fit a human with a prosthetic and feeding him a steady supply of treats to keep him happy through the process they were able to make a mold of his leg, and successfully created Chhouk’s first prosthetic foot! Everyone was full of uneasy anticipation as they tried it on the young elephant for the first time, but to everyone’s delight Chhouk immediately took to the shoe and began to walk on it with no problems straight away. As he is a growing boy, he is fitted with a new shoe twice a year at between $800-1000USD/shoe. The shoe is made of a soft foam inside, a hard polypropelene plastic exterior, and an offroad car tire on the bottom! Until recently Chhouk has been sponsored by Bridgestone tires. He is currently seeking a new sponsor! If you or someone you know would be interested in sponsoring this young man please get in touch!
Our forest rangers work tirelessly to protect some of the world’s most endangered animals in one of Southeast Asia’s last great rainforests.
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