April, 2018 Visit to Pelusa: Part IV Although we want people to see Pelusa as more than her external appearance, we also need to make sure that there is an understanding of the urgency in regards to her foot care. Her medical care upon arrival to sanctuary will be extensive and costly. Pelusa’s rescue to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is already funded by Fondation Franz Weber so our up and coming fundraiser is geared towards her medical care.
Our first fundraising goal is building Pelusa a medical Jacuzzi tub for a more effective and penetrating foot soak. The tub will also to allow her to take the weight off of her aching body for the first time in years, helping with fatigue and muscle pain. The second goal is raising enough funds for 6 months of foot treatments. The third is to create a small and inexpensive medical center that will allow for better monitoring of her condition, with the last being blood monitoring equipment so we can get faster in-house results. You can see more details HERE. Of course all of these things will be beneficial for future elephants or illnesses as well, but Pelusa’s condition is what makes them a necessity now.
To be clear, Pelusa’s feet will never fully heal at this point. She suffers from osteomyelitis; treatment can result in improvement, but never a cure. The effects of captivity have unfortunately gone on too long. We have dealt with similar foot issues in the past and have seen significant improvement, but we won’t know how she will respond until we try.
The reality is either Scott or myself will end up being Pelusa’s personal caregiver and spending most of the day with her. She requires twice daily foot treatments, including foot soaks, along with monitoring her food intake, ensuring her comfort and (if she desires) safely introducing her to other elephants. The reason for sending Suz to the zoo in Argentina is because Pelusa needs her own dedicated person, someone to spend the entire day caring only for her, and this will remain the same at sanctuary.
To try to head off some questions, we’ll quickly address a few items here. First- the zoo tried shoes/boots for her that were sent from Lek of ENP some time ago. Pelusa doesn’t like them and they didn’t work for her. The zoo does currently treat her feet, but without changing what caused the damage in the first place (her environment) it’s impossible to make much positive progress. We have talked to several elephant professionals about different foot treatment options, including bringing Dr. Rinku Gohain with us on our visit to Pelusa in December. Dr. Gohain was the veterinarian at ENP for years and continues to work with elephants in India and has seen the worst of the worst in regards to foot issues.
We have several different treatments we will try at the sanctuary and are aware of some of the ‘new’ treatments currently being used on elephants. We are also speaking with someone about cold laser therapy and hope to have him visit the sanctuary sometime soon to bring a system with him. Lastly, euthanasia is an option that has been discussed with her veterinary team, but is not our decision to make. Pelusa still belongs to the zoo at this point and all decisions for her care are theirs. That being said, if she is strong enough to travel, the goal will be to see how much improvement can be attained when she arrives to sanctuary. If Pelusa wants to fight, we will do everything in our power to help her do just that. If Pelusa decides she is done, we can also help make her journey out of this world as peaceful as possible.
The photo: Background-lovely Pelusa from our most recent trip. The small picture in picture is one of her back feet. This is not current, but from our last trip in December when she was having a major blowout.
April, 2018 Visit to Pelusa Series:
Part I Where To Start
Part II Developing A Plan
Part III Thoughts From Her New Caregiver Suz
Part IV What Pelusa Needs And How You Can Help Give It To Her
Part V This Is Pelusa