Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chhouk gets a new foot

Remember this little guy?

Yesterday the Phnom Penh Post reported that Chhouk the 4 year old baby elephant that we saw on our trip to Tamao with my parents, when they were here in February, was yesterday fitted with what is the third prosthetic foot made for an elephant. A Thai elephant named Motola was the first to receive the treatment in 2006 after stepping on a landmine. Chhouk's new $30 000USD foot was made by the Cambodian School of Prosthesis and Orthtotics (CPSO). For months now Wildlife Alliance has been raising money to fund the foot and the feet that will be needed as Chhouk grows into a full size elephant.
CSPO is an educational center where students from the region can learn how to prescribe, manufacture and fit artificial limbs and orthopedic braces. In their spare time they have generously volunteered their knowledge to make Chhouk's artificial foot. In the article, Cathy Mc Connell who headed up the project admitted she wasnt sure if Cambodia could pull it off due to such limited resources but the students were keen and enjoyed being challenged by the unusual task.

(photo from the Phnom Penh Post)

According to Phnom Tamao's elephant keeper of 10 years, Try Sitheng, with his new foot, 'Chhouk loves to run through the forest with Lucky (his older elephant pal) on the hunt for jungle fruits. Without his shoe he walks very slowly. With his shoe he can run very well. He plays with Lucky and puts the sand on his head. I think he is very happy when he has a foot like that.'

'Nothing has fazed the little elephant,' Nick Marx of the Wildlife Alliance was quoted. 'A lesser spirit might not have survived the ordeal, but Chhouk's resilience and personality has actually made such a difficult problem absolutely no trouble at all.'

(Dad with Chhouk in February2009)


Leone said...

fabulous news......

Sarah Lee said...

Awww, that's incredible! Such a very touching, heart warming story. Long may he run through the forest searching for jungle fruits.