Chhouk – The elephant with the prosthetic foot

By Kaytie Grant

Chhouk – The elephant with the prosthetic foot.

Chhouk is a 10 year old male elephant cared for by our friends at Wildlife Alliance based in Cambodia. He was rescued by them in 2007. The young elephant was found weak and  alone in the forest in Northeast Cambodia. He had a deeply infected wound probably caused by a poacher’s snare. He was ill and quite immobile so the rescuers stayed with him in the forest for two weeks. In this time they gained his trust and he grew the strength to be transported back to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. Whilst the team were able to treat some of the wounds, unfortunately Chhouk had to have part of his lower left fore leg amputated.

The Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics step in

It became clear that having one leg shorter than the other was going to be very life debilitating for Chhouk. Fortunately, thanks to the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO), Chhouk has been able to enjoy a happy, mobile life. They fitted Chhouk with a prosthetic leg, which changed his life for the better. Since his first fitting he has been able to run and play around his enclosure at the centre. 

IWCT Donation

However, like any growing young man, Chhouk regularly outgrows and wears out his prosthetic foot. This means he can get through 2 or 3 a year! As you can imagine, this is costly for Wildlife Alliance but a necessity for Chhouk’s quality of life. As such, IWCT have donated £5,000 towards the cost of making new prosthetics for Chhouk.

Wildlife Alliance have kindly provided some photographs and video of the prosthetic shoe changing process, which you can see here and on our social media channels, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Positive Reinforcement

The keepers use positive reinforcement training to reward Chhouk with tasty treats such as coconut, for his cooperation during the shoe changing process. As a result, Chhouk always associates it with a reward and a positive experience. The clicker method is used – very similar to dog training. Naturally, having an abiding elephant makes the process much easier and safer for all involved!

You too can help

We are delighted to be able to support Chhouk and the work of Wildlife Alliance. If you too would like to offer a step towards keeping Chhouk comfortably shod, you can make a donation via this designated form

No animal should be subjected to any suffering. Thank you for your support. 

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