Surgeons work wonders on wounded elephant

May 25, 2009

Veterinarians and surgeons earlier last week conducted emergency surgery on the wounded foot of a five-year-old circus elephant Kham Bun.

The five-year-old circus elephant Kham Bun.

LookAtVietnam – Veterinarians and surgeons earlier last week conducted emergency surgery on the wounded foot of a five-year-old circus elephant Kham Bun.

The elephant’s fate made newspaper headlines recently, following rumours that his foot would be amputated.

In 2006, Kham Bun’s left front foot got caught in a trap in the forest in the Central Highlands province of Dac Lac when he strayed from his herd.

Rangers rescued him and treated his wound, but were unaware that it had not properly healed.

The elephant was sent to Ha Noi in 2007 to perform with the local circus on orders of the Government, but was unable to do so.

Since then, he has been kept at the Viet Nam Circus Federation in Ha Noi.

Passersby had often seen him limping in his cage on Tran Nhan Tong Street.

“His foot was injured in a trap nearly three years ago, but never fully healed,” said Ta Duy Nhan, head of the federation’s Animal Circus Group.

Dr Nguyen Hai Dang, who works for the circus federation, said the elephant received antibiotic injections whenever his leg became infected.

“We never thought of amputating Bun’s foot,” Dang said. “We made every effort to heal it.”

Leading veterinarians of Viet Nam and abroad who met with the federation last weekend decided to offer emergency treatment to the young elephant.

American veterinarian Dr Nathan Henry, who has years of experience in treating elephant wounds, and surgeons from Ha Noi’s Viet Duc Hospital, were invited to take part in the surgery.

Surgeons made a small cut on the sole of the injured foot, taking out all dead and decaying tissue.

“We tried to cause no harm to the fibres in the sole of the foot so the elephant can stand and walk in a natural way,” veterinarian Do Trong Minh, head of the surgery team, said.

“The wound was not as serious as we had thought. The infection had not reached the bone,” Minh said. “Antibiotic injections will be administered to the wound for several days.”

“Post-surgical care is our important task now. The wound as well as the cage of the elephant must be clean,” he said.

Dr Nathan Henry said the wound of the elephant would receive special care from veterinarians for many years.

Formerly part of a 20-member herd, Kham Bun caught the attention of the public after stories about his foot and other endangered elephants were featured in a Viet Nam Television documentary broadcast nationally several times in 2007.

Calls to release Kham Bun to the Central Highlands forests grew this month as the circus federation considered what to do.


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