Emma, a 40-year-old elephant who was force-fed a diet of alcohol, fried food, tobacco, and sweets, was saved from lifelong exploitation.
Conservationists ran to her rescue on New Year’s Eve and put the Indian elephant in a specially designed ambulance for the 1,000-mile journey from the city of Dhanbad in the east of the country to Mathura in the north.
Emma was severely malnourished and suffered from painful and chronic osteoarthritis and degenerative joint diseases.
Sharp fragments of glass, metal, and stone were also embedded in their foot pads.
Wildlife SoS, who orchestrated the rescue, said her perpetrators had given her little rest as they regularly used Emma for “begging, religious processions, wedding ceremonies, tourist trips, and whatever activities her owner found lucrative.”
The Indian charity said: “At night she was restrained tightly, preventing her from lying down and resting. She was fed an unhealthy diet of sweets and fried foods, which severely affected her immunity and health.
“She was also force-fed regularly to force her to work despite the pain in her legs.
“When interviewed, her owners said they could not afford adequate medical treatment.
“Terrifyingly, it is not uncommon for captive elephants to be given alcohol and tobacco by their owners as home remedies to address health problems.
“In reality, elephants cannot metabolize alcohol and it is toxic to the animal.
“Such callous formation can also lead to intoxication, which can lead the elephant to riot over a crowded area and endanger the lives of innocent bystanders.”
Research by the Wildlife SOS vet found that the elephant raised its forelegs unusually often to compensate for the severe leg pain caused by years of abuse that led to degenerative joint disease of the forelegs.
Dr. Ilayaraja, Deputy Director of the Veterinary Service for Wildlife SOS,
said: “It is extremely painful for the elephant to stand on their delicate and sensitive feet.
“Years of neglect and abuse have damaged their health.
Founder and CEO Kartick Satyanaraya added, “We had to act quickly so Emma could get the medical care she so desperately needs.
“The fact that she was force-fed by her owner shows the immense cruelty and neglect she has faced over the years.”