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Elephant Mosha get new a artificial leg

Victims of land mines come in all shapes and sizes and Motola the elephant is no exception.

Motola, an elephant from Thailand, has just been fitted with an artificial leg after stepping on a land mine 10 years ago.

Her new leg will be a permanent fixture and is made by a company who normally produce artificial limbs for people, not pachyderms!
Elephant get new a artificial leg
Prosthetics for pachyderms: Artificial leg expert Terdchai Cheevakate holds a cast of Motola's injured left leg as they prepare to fit her with her new limb

Elephant get new a artificial leg
Trunk-tastic: Motola, her injured foot covered by canvas, has learned to use her trunk to lean against the bars of her enclosure. With her new leg being fitted today, she can afford to give her trunk a rest!

Motola was injured in 1999 while she was working at a logging camp along the Myanmar-Thailand border. The area is known to be covered in land mines.

Her badly injured foot was amputated and the elephant managed to hobble along on three legs after the operation.

She was fitted with a canvas, shoe-like device two years ago, but will receive her own tailor-made artificial leg this weekend.

'It has been 10 years now, but in all these long years Motola enjoyed a happy life, walking out of her shelter for a sun bath,' said Soraida Salvala, secretary general of campaign group Friends of the Asian Elephant.

Experts in Thailand have already made casts of Motola's injured left foot for the permanent plastic leg. It must be strong enough to support the 48-year-old's three-ton weight.
Elephant get new a artificial leg
Record breaker: Baby elephant Mosha is an expert at using her fake leg - the first elephant in the world to be fitted with one

Elephant get new a artificial leg
Victim: Mosha and Motola are both victims of land mines, losing limbs after stepping on the fatal devices

Amazingly, Motola is not the first pachyderm to be fitted with a prosthetic limb.

Mosha, a three-year-old elephant, became the world's first elephant to have an artificial leg fitted in 2007.

The younger elephant is also the victim of a land mine and has already outgrown three previous prosthetic legs.

"I do hope [Motola] will accept the new leg. It would be wonderful to see Motola and Baby Mosha walking together side-by-side," said Salvala.

Although Motola is the second elephant to receive an artificial leg, she has already been in the record books following her injury.

During the operation to remove her left foot, she received enough anaesthetic to knock out 70 people - a fact that put her into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000.

Motola's new leg is being constructed by the Prostheses Foundation, an organisation that usually makes cheap but effective artificial limbs for human amputees.
Elephant get new a artificial leg
Forever friends: Soraida Salvala comforts Motola before she is fitted for her new leg. Salvala says Motola's story is just one of many injured elephants in Thailand

The injuries of the two elephants have highlighted the difficulties facing the majestic creatures in Thailand.

Both are now being cared for at the Elephant Hospital in Southern Thailand. The hospital was set up by the FAE and is the only elephant hospital in the world.

It has treated thousands of elephants for ailments ranging from eye infection to gunshot wounds.

A number of elephants have also been injured by land mines, but the charity says this is just one problem facing the animals in Thailand.

They say the number of domesticated pachyderms has dropped from 13,400 in 1950 to today's estimated 2,500, while the number of wild elephants has also dropped dramatically.


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