Lady’s Foot Care Update


Lady continues to receive daily targeted foot care for her recent issue in addition to her regular foot care regimen. The blowout that was beginning to appear has evolved a little bit. It maintained for a few weeks, and then the cuticle became involved. Since then it hasn’t changed and is maintaining again.

Unfortunately, these are not new issues. Although things are coming to the surface at this moment, these are issues that have been lying deeper within the foot for a long time and originated many years ago. We were aware of the tragic condition of Lady’s feet before agreeing to bring her to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, and felt that was one of the primary reasons she needed to be here- so her feet could receive the specialized care they required. Along with her spirit. ❤️

Her left foot shows external issues, but her right foot is the one that is actually causing her discomfort right now. There is nothing notable on the exterior, but something internal has recently begun causing her pain. We have adjusted her treatment accordingly and keep a close eye on her foot to see if there are more definitive signs of what exactly the issue might be.

This is the reality of foot disease in captive elephants. Years of hard unforgiving substrates, lack of exercise, inability to clean surroundings, and sometimes chains cause layer upon layer of issues that become buried deep within the foot. And elephants being as stoic as they are, push through life, as the problem remains untreated and compounds.

It’s hard not to be angry at how preventable all of this is. But it’s also impossible not to be ridiculously proud of how far Lady has come since her arrival. She’s starting to become a little rumble bug and now does ‘cute’ things because she knows they’re cute and she enjoys when her humans fawn over her. On the days her feet are sore, she still graciously presents them, gently holds your hand while you do what is needed, and then hysterically opens her mouth and sticks her tongue out sideways waiting for the big treats coming her way. She couldn’t be any more perfect. Even on the days where it takes us 10 minutes of spraying off her feet to be able to get through the layers of mud armor she has applied. 😉

Her care wouldn’t be possible without her trust, but it also wouldn’t be possible without you all loving and supporting her.

Many of you likely remember the long list of Lady’s foot care products we shared during this year’s Big Payback (Lady Steps of Hope fundraiser). We use those products daily to clean, soak, scrub, spray, and bring her comfort. The bucket (photo below) that we bring to each session, full of healing products, is a bucket of love from our supporters. A love she didn’t know until recently.

Like anyone over a certain age or that has a chronic health condition, Lady has her good days and her bad days, yet she shows up for soaks and footwork ready and willing- sometimes even demanding (when she gets there before us). She loves exploring the habitat. Her face is continually getting softer, and she regularly has joyous trumpet parties. She continues to blossom, regardless of the impact of her past.

We continue to be incredibly grateful for all of your support during the Big Payback, the products it enabled us to purchase, and the work it allows us do. Thank you again for opening your heart up to Lady! We appreciate everyone who played a part in providing her with the best care possible. ❤️





  1. REPLY
    Jacquelinr Leighton says

    Lady is doing so well

  2. REPLY
    Susan says

    One of things that I most appreciate about your blogs is how you focus on the positive and on the great strides and progress of our wonderful Girls. I was starting to read the above and could feel sadness and some anger at all the pain Lady has had to deal with all these years and then came the sentence about how wonderfully brave and amazing she has been as you continue to treat her. Thank you so much for always sharing and reminding me, just how truly brave and amazing each of them is. Love and hugs to everyone!! ❤️?❤️?❤️

  3. REPLY
    Barb says

    Oh that we could “whoosh” away Lady’s foot problems, She has the best loving care at ESB and all her followers send love and best vibes.

  4. REPLY
    Carol says

    ??????poor ladybug. What pain she must endure. Praying for immense healing to occur.

  5. REPLY
    Wim says

    A big complicated story must be a heavy load for all of you. She’s a strong and resilient Lady who gets back the love she gives in return.
    It fills up heart and soul to help for her treatment and free life. THANKS LADY.

  6. REPLY
    Patricia says

    I love her desperately, and wish she never had to endure one bit of pain. A question: truly, far be it for me to question your protocols for dealing with problems like Lady’s feet. You seem to stick to an all natural (holistic?) regime. Might some of her issues be treated with more traditional medicines, such as antibiotics? With love and hugs to you all.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      We don’t mind questions at all. First, a little clarification, natural and holistic are two different things. Holistic care is treating the body as a whole and not just the symptoms themselves. It includes new and old medicine, with a united approach and that is what we use. I (Kat) went to school to become a licensed veterinary technician and worked in ‘traditional’ veterinary hospitals for 15 years before switching to elephants. Our vets are both ‘traditional’ vets, but our veterinary advisors come from all different modalities and backgrounds and we try to incorporate all of them. We use antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, we vaccinate our elephants, etc. We don’t usually name specifics of traditional meds because most people understand/relate to them less. Unfortunately, for Lady, antibiotics aren’t helpful in regards to foot infections, nevertheless osteomyelitis. Foot/joint disease is still the leading killer of captive elephants, mostly because everything that has been tried doesn’t cure anything and often times isn’t very helpful. The most common treatment for her foot condition in zoos would be ibuprofen. That’s it. Antibiotic therapy has been tried, several kinds, different delivery systems, different combinations, with poor results, often made worse by causing side effects such as significant GI issues. We wish it was that simple. Surgery has been attempted on some elephants in different facilities, going as far as doing 3 surgeries on the same elephant to continue to remove infected digits. Sadly, resulting in her euthanasia during the 3rd surgery after her losing hundreds of pounds. There’s just no easy answer. Studies continue to be done to try and find the ‘new’ treatment that has promise, and we follow them and try along (when it’s responsible). So we are left with trying to improve the condition of her feet and make her as comfortable as possible- while giving her a level of freedom and joy. We are using one of the treatments from a ‘promising’ study, along with cold laser therapy (which some facilities have seen results) and a slew of other natural treatments- because when used responsibly, if they don’t help, they also don’t hurt. We would do anything possible to help her, sadly no one has found that ‘anything’ yet.

  7. REPLY
    Julie says

    Your love for Lady brings me to tears! Thanks you so much for what you do every day. I’m sure it’s a lot of work and long long hours. You are appreciated! ❤️

  8. REPLY
    alana says

    May every day bring more healing, more rumbles, silliness & less pain.

  9. REPLY
    Terry Feleppa says

    Have you considered using DMSO? I swear by it for it has healed deep foot abscesses I have had…It is miraculous!!! I’m not negating anything you are currently doing because what you do daily is phenomenal!!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      One of her sprays that she receives daily is DMSO based. 🙂 Unfortunately, because of the long-term infection that was present, she most likely suffers from osteomyelitis and suffers from bone degradation, which is irreversible. We have seen multiple digits that were completely disintegrated in radiographs of elephants with feet in better condition. But we do what we can to try to make her more comfortable and prevent her foot condition from becoming worse.

  10. REPLY
    Carrie V says

    My husband has dealt with osteomyelitis in his leg a few times. It is extremely painful. My heart really goes out to Lady, what a brave girl to endure all she has.

  11. REPLY
    Heidi says

    I agree with Susan. I like the way you focus on the positive. Thank you for all you do for Lady! I can’t personally take care of an elephant, but I feel I can vicariously love and care for the elephants through you! Thank you for that gift!!

  12. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    For our love of Lady, we give and will keep giving. Above all, I wish Lady to be free of pain but I know this is a hard ask given her years of confinement and abuse. Who pays the price for such cruelty? Lady does, but at least we can give her something back and show her the love she so deserves….and,hopefully, to give her days of less pain.
    She knows the treatment helps. She’s smart. We love you, Lady, and it is the love that keeps on giving.
    Thank you Kat and Scott and all the wonderful carers at ESB, thank you for all you do for the girls.

  13. REPLY
    Carol Anderson says

    Is there any chance of her foot ever healing?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Completely? Not likely. After at least 7 years without proper foot care, she likely suffers from osteomyelitis, which has no cure. We can improve the condition of her feet, which we already have, and will continue to do. But they will never be ‘normal’. Many times this type of condition is cyclical, so she may go months without much going on and much discomfort, and then something will cycle around again. Our hope was always to make her more comfortable once she arrived at sanctuary ad to do all we could to get them to as good of a place as possible. The hope is always that she has more good than bad days. And so far, that has been the case.

  14. REPLY
    Paula says

    Kat & Scott, quiero abrazarlos fuertemente ?
    Me uno a todos los mensajes de mis compañeros del blog!
    Mantengamos en alto la esperanza!?
    Si Lady tiene una oportunidad de sanar, es aquí con ustedes!?
    Ustedes hacen todo lo humanamente posible por ella, Lady lo sabe y se los agradece❤?
    Los milagros existen!!!

  15. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    I agree. It is easy to be angry when I think of her past treatment and neglect has let to Lady’s current pain and condition. Thank you for remaining positive, and focusing on the task at hand of giving her the best treatment and attention possible. Because of the intelligence of the elephant, and Lady’s personality, I just know she understands you are helping her so therefore she trusts you.

  16. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    Having worked in the medical profession I know how hard it is to treat humans with osteomyelitis, sometimes amputation is the only cure. So in an elephant it is an even greater burden on them once years of confinement and lack of treatment has occurred. I know elephants die from this disease and this is why we must raise awareness for all captive elephants around the world. More sanctuaries like ESB, the banning of wild animals in circuses NOW!, a greater public responsibility to those animals still kept in zoos. Animals need to be protected for their future generations and not because we want our grandchildren to be able to see them as we hear so often. Animals have a right to share this planet with us without us persecuting them……..and what a wonderful world it would be!

  17. REPLY
    Carey says

    I have now looked up osteomyelitis. and see what you mean about the nature of Lady’s treatment and your goals, this is an awful disease. She copes so amazingly well. i wonder if the pain tolerance level of elephants is higher than in humans? Do you know? I’m so glad she is with you , and just how far she has come.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Very much so. When we did Bunny’s necropsy (at TES) her hip joint was a mess. One of the comments was that if she was a human, she would be bedridden. They can tolerate a tremendous amount of discomfort, which is a good and bad thing at the same time.

  18. REPLY
    Sherry says

    The important thing of all is educating ppl about elephants! Stop the capturing of baby elephants to sell to zoos and STOP
    the poaching!!!! I have been studying elephants now for 5 years; much researching and reading. I have cried many tears! Never ever go to a
    zoo. Wildlife is just that, WILD, born with a FREE SPIRIT.

  19. REPLY
    Lynn says

    Thank you Kat and Scott. I love being a part of all the girls journeys. With Ladybird (my nickname for her) I’m wondering if you could add Epsom salts to her foot soaks. My horse used to get thrush in her front foot and she loved the warm water and Epsom salt soaks. Plus the salt is a strong drawing agent and doesn’t sting. Maybe you’ve already tried this. Thank you again for letting all of us be a part of the girl’s lives. ??

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      One of her soaks is Epsom salt and turmeric. It’s commonly used with elephant feet. It’s on her wishlist and was part of the items on her fundraiser. We go through quite a lot, but if that’s what it takes to keep things from progressing, it’s well worth it. 🙂

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