MOSHA, the world’s first elephant to receive a specially-designed prosthetic limb, has to switch to a new prosthetic every few years due to wear and tear, as well as physical growth.
In the heartwarming video, Great Big Story met with Mosha as she is having her new prosthetic leg fitted – her ninth in six years.
The prosthetic surgeon overseeing the procedure, Therdchai Jivacate, told Reuters: “The way she walked was unbalanced, and her spine was going to bend – that means she would have hurt her cartilages badly, and would have eventually stopped walking … She would have died because of that.”
Therdchai said Mosha lost her leg when she was two years old from a landmine near the Thailand-Burma border.
He added that when he first met her, he felt he should do something to help, and so he designed the world’s first artificial leg for an elephant.
“This means so much for her, as she can live a normal life, like she should,” he said.
When Mosha received her first prosthetic, she weighed 600kg, but as she now weighs some 2,000kg, more durable materials must be used.
“This is a challenge for me, too – every time we fix it, we improve it. It’s more sturdy, stronger. This is not in the textbook … We rely on trial and error,” said Therdchai.
Her latest prosthetic is made from thermoplastic, steel, and elastomer.
Mosha is one of 17 elephants currently living at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) foundation hospital at Lampang in northern Thailand.
Over the years, Therdchai has also designed various prosthetic legs not only for Mosha, but for other animals, including Motala, another elephant at the elephant hospital that had lost her leg from a landmine.
The hospital, founded in 1993, was the world’s first elephant hospital, and has since nurtured more than 4,000 sick, injured, or abused elephants back to health.