The first elephant hospital in India has opened for business.
Located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the facility is the product of non-profit Wildlife SOS, which also runs a nearby conservation and care center.
The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital was specially designed to provide care to injured, sick and geriatric jumbo-sized patients. Complete with an in-house pathology lab, the facility also boasts x-ray and ultrasound machines as well as a hydrotherapy pool.
Patients are expected to include elephants who were held in captivity, those used as tourist attractions as well as victims of highway accidents.
“These elephants go through a lot of abuse, brutality, cruelty in order to be ridden,” Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan told the BBC. “And through that process, they develop abscesses, internal problems, back problems, all kinds of health issues that need to be addressed.”
Elephants don’t even need to be brought to the hospital to receive medical attention.
“Our hospital has center with very portable kind of machinery,” Geeta Seshamani, Wildlife SOS co-founder said. “So if an elephant is hit-and-run very far away anywhere in North India, we can go there and we can take care of it on site itself.”
While elephants are highly revered in India, many often fall victim to the brutal wildlife trade or are mistreated by mahouts (elephant caretakers).
“The hospital is something really special because for centuries India has used its elephants and abused them,” Seshamani said. “Today, for the first time, we can offer them a place where we can heal them and take very good care of them.”