An 11-year-old Asian elephant named Chhouk lost his foot to a poacher’s snare, but thanks to a prosthetic foot made from recycled car tires and tow truck strapping, he is now able to walk, swim, and even run without difficulty.
The prosthetic foot is funded by the Paradise Wildlife Park in the UK, which donates $1,450 every year to the Wildlife Alliance conservation organization in Cambodia, where Chhouk lives. The prosthetic needs to be replaced every 6 months because Chhouk is still growing.
“The level of care that he gets is brilliant and he has a great life now,” said Cam Whitnall, who runs the Paradise Wildlife Park and Big Cat Sanctuary with his family. “Because he’s still growing, it needs replacing often and we’ve been sending payments to cover that. They’re made out of recycled rubber and some Velcro to tie it up,” he said. “They weigh about 44 pounds and we actually got them to send one over and it’s sitting in my office currently.”
Recently, Cam visited Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia and saw firsthand how Chhouk’s prosthetic foot is fitted. The keepers use a little contraption to isolate his leg in order to attach the prosthetic, but as a video taken by Cam shows, Chhouk helps the process along as if he were a human putting on a shoe.
Chhouk’s story is a reminder of the importance of conservation efforts for elephants and other animals. Poaching is a major threat to elephants, and the Wildlife Alliance is working to protect these animals and their habitats.