Elephants are beating the heat with long hours spent in the jumbo-sized swimming pools at the Wild Life SOS Elephant Conservation centre, close to the Agra-Delhi national highway.
For the past one week, temperatures have been rising steeply, causing discomfort to the elephants in the shelter home. All the 29 resident animals now have access to their very own jumbo swimming pools as well as water sprinklers that create cool zones inside their free-ranging enclosures.
The elephants thoroughly enjoy spending time in their personal pools. While the older elephants prefer spending hours simply relaxing in the cool refreshing water, some of the younger, more playful ones like Peanut, Coconut, Laxmi and Chanchal can be seen diving headfirst into the water and playing with rubber tyres inside the pool.
The pools are 400 square feet and 6 feet deep. To provide easy access for the elephants, there is an inclined ramp leading into each pool. Apart from providing respite from the heat, the buoyancy of the water helps take the massive weight off the elephants’ feet and helps them to relax.
Wildlife SOS also has India’s first Jumbo Hydrotherapy pool for elephants at the Elephant Hospital in Mathura. An effective complementary treatment for the elephants’ painful joints and feet is hydrotherapy, a form of physical therapy that uses the therapeutic benefits of water to perform physical rehabilitation in animals. Exerting hydrostatic pressure that compresses muscle and joints, hydrotherapy helps in relieving chronic muscle aches as well as rebuild muscle memory with its natural resistance.
The hydrotherapy pool is 11 foot-deep and has 21 high pressure jet sprays that create water pressure that massage the elephants’ feet and body and help in increasing blood circulation.
The elephants at Wildlife SOS have been rescued from extremely stressful conditions such as performing in circuses, giving tourist rides, begging on the streets and being used in wedding processions etc. They were often made to navigate environments that their body was not built for or were chained for hours on concrete that led to an early onset of arthritis. Lack of nutrition and improper foot care also resulted in overgrown toenails and cuticles, making them vulnerable to cracking. This made walking or even standing highly painful for these wide-ranging animals.
Wildlife SOS’ Deputy Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Ilayaraja said: “Apart from the jumbo pools, the elephants have been placed on a summer diet consisting of seasonal fruits like watermelons, musk melons and cucumbers which helps keep them hydrated. We are also giving glucose water, electrolyte solution and herbal medication to prevent heat strokes and dehydration."
Director, Conservation Projects, Baiju Raj M.V. said: “The elephants spend hours in the pools and it fills our hearts with joy to watch them simply relaxing in the water. We also take them to the Yamuna river which they thoroughly enjoy."
Wildlife SOS co-founder and CEO Kartick Satyanarayan said: “Captivity denies elephants the very basic necessities essential to their survival and well-being. It is reassuring to see that our efforts have made a positive difference to their lives and we will continue to help more such elephants in distress."