When Mosha the Asian elephant was just seven months old, she stepped on a landmine near the Thai-Burmese border.
The poor baby elephant was immediately rushed to surgery. Veterinarians were able to save her life, but they couldn’t save her leg.
The veterinarians knew Mosha wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild with three legs, and so they brought her to the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation. The elephant quickly settled into life in the sanctuary, and she made friends with the other elephants.
As Mosha started growing up, sanctuary workers began worrying about her. She put two-thirds of her weight on her left foreleg, and it was starting to bend unnaturally.
When Mosha was two years old, the sanctuary decided to call up orthopedic surgeon Therdchai Jivacate. Dr. Therdchai is a master prosthetics maker, and he’s made more than 20,000 limbs for humans and small animals like dogs and cats. He’d never made a prosthetic limb for an elephant before, but he decided he was up for the challenge.
“The way she walked was unbalanced and her spine was going to bend,” Therdchai told Reuters. “She would have died.”
Therdchai headed to the sanctuary and began the process of creating the first elephant prosthetic limb. It took a lot of trial and error, but Therdchai was able to create a leg that was comfortable for Mosha and held her weight.
When Therdchai first put the prosthetic limb on Mosha, she was confused, and she tried to pull it off with her trunk. It took about twelve hours for Mosha to learn how to walk on the prosthetic leg, and it was quickly clear that she loved her new leg!
There was just one problem: Mosha quickly outgrew her prosthetic limb.
In a few years, she went from 1300 pounds to over 4000 pounds! Therdchai was happy to make another limb for her. Then, when she outgrew that limb, he made her another. Over the past fifteen years, Mosha has gone through more than nine limbs. Therdchai makes improvements each time he creates a new limb. Now, the prosthetic limbs are much sturdier, and they’re able to hold Mosha’s weight.
Mosha seems to remember Therdchai. She’s excited every time he comes to visit!
“Animals don’t ask that we make legs for them, but we wanted to give Mosha one,” Therdchai told Vice. “I think she knows that I make her prosthetic legs as each time I come to the elephant hospital she makes a little salute by raising her trunk in the air.”
In April 2018, Mosha received her newest prosthetic leg. She’s now able to walk on it like a pro!
Mosha wears the newest #prosthetic made @FAEeleHosp by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Therdchai Jivacate's Team โม่ชะดีใจได้ขาเทียมข้างใหม่ล่าสุดค่ะ ขอบพระคุณอ.หมอเทอดชัย ชีวะเกตุและ #ทีมขาเทียมช้าง ทุกท่าน#elephants #prosthetics
Posted by Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation on Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Dr. Therdchai is an incredible orthopedic surgeon who has given Mosha the chance to run and play with all the other elephants. If you’d like to learn more about Therdchai and Mosha, check out the video below.
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Source: Great Big Story