Rana’s Sore Ankle


The other day, caregivers noticed a small area of swelling on one of her ankles. She was not favoring it or acting like she was uncomfortable, but we brought her in to take a closer look.  Superficially, it didn’t look like much so we were keeping an eye on it. The next day, when palpating it, it felt a little warm and she seemed less comfortable. Although we felt it was probably a soft tissue injury, we decided to bring her in and take some radiographs and thermal images. With Rana being at least 64 years old, we wanted to take extra precautions just in case it was more than just “grandma joints” making themselves known. 

As usual, Rana was a rockstar. She is very tolerant of just about everything we ask from her. Caregiver Nicole was there to observe and Dr. Trish is visiting – so she and veterinarian Mateus worked together on imaging. Mateus knows how to work the x-ray machine and Trish has significant knowledge of elephant anatomy, so the two of them compliment each other well. Kat had the preferred job of getting Rana into position and then holding her nose, while Scott was the x-ray plate holder, putting him closest to her sore joint. 

It can sometimes be challenging to get consistent x-rays using protected contact, but it’s not impossible. You are trying to get an elephant to position her foot at a perfect angle on both sides, so that you can have a comparison of what one foot looks like versus another – all while needing to avoid all of the bars that create a safe protected contact environment. Rana changed positions and angles multiple times, whenever it was requested. Although at one point she wanted to offer her usual positioning, she was able to calm her brain down and figure out what was being asked versus what she’s used to doing by routine. 

After good comparative films were obtained, we gave her a break and put some food down in the barn while we worked on thermal imaging. As with the x-ray, you also have to get pictures of both sides for comparative purposes. To allow her to be as relaxed as possible, we fed half of her meal on one side to get those shots. Then we put the rest of her food down on the other side of the barn, to get the other views.

Afterward, Rana immediately went out through Yard 1 and into Yard 5 where Mara, Bambi, Maia, and Guille were. Bambi met her near the gate between Yard 5 and the smaller yards and the two went from there to meet the others. 

As for Rana’s ankle, there weren’t any significant acute injuries that showed on radiographs, but images were suggestive of a strain/sprain. It should be something that passes relatively quickly with some topical treatments and compresses but since her joints look like that of an elephant her age, but her blood work has always looked good, we will most likely put her on a low dose of medication and monitor her for any discomfort. She still doesn’t appear to be in pain when she walks, and is continuing to venture throughout the habitat, so we will consider her tests piece of mind. 

Photo is an image of Rana’s thermal imaging scan.


P.S.: Did you choose correctly on Saturday’s post? The elephant you should have identified was sweet Lady Bug!


  1. REPLY
    Susan Flewelling says

    Do hope Rana is back to normal very soon.

    BTW, The colours are amazing – though i haven’t a clue what they mean. The image would look great on a shirt!

  2. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Oh Rana, hope it will heal fast! Go for a pond swim to give some comfort yo your ankle.. ❤️❤️🙏💚🧚🏻

  3. REPLY
    Kathie McDavid says

    You could auction her scan as psychedelic art!

  4. REPLY
    Johnny says

    If only Rana knew people all over the world were thinking of her. Then again, as intuitive as these wonderful creatures are, maybe she does!

  5. REPLY
    Marcia says

    Can you, and I’m serious here, put that thermal image on a t-shirt? How beautiful! (And now I’m seeing someone else posted something about a t-shirt. Great idea!)

  6. REPLY
    CAROL says

    Praying for our girl to recover quickly and painlessly!

  7. REPLY
    Susan says

    Wishing for a speedy recovery and so thankful for your wonderful care of these special ladies! Love and hugs ❤️🐘❤️

  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    Finger crossed for Miss Rana. Quick recovery and luckily she’s in very safe hands. Thank you for your information overload. Utterly impressed.

  9. REPLY
    Barb says

    Such a lovely comments about dear Rana! You bet people around the World think of her and send best vibes, including me!

  10. REPLY
    Melinda says

    Get well soon, precious Rana!

  11. REPLY
    Terry says

    Love the purple and turquoise, with hints of blue! The red does look minimal, which is great! You all are so proactive with all the girls care. Is this sprain on her left or right, front or back?

  12. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Glad it’s nothing serious and glad she’s moving ok

  13. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    I love that Rana Girl so much. I’m glad it seems it’s just a bit of a sprain. I’m wondering if it’s thanks to all her extra wanderings in the male yards? She really does seem to have been on a mission. She’s done so much to help so many of the other girls individually as well as collectively over the past few years. Rana always seems to know and want to do the best for everyone so if anyone deserves some extra fun time wandering alone to recharge their batteries, it is her. I can imagine her presence bringing peace and serenity to ever creature she encounters. She is such a special soul. I’ll be hoping that sore spot is on the wane, soon to be forgotten. She’s just the sweetest.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      she’s just like any of us, you can strain a limb opening a pickle jar. there’s no way to know what it is from, we are just glad it is something minor. 💜

  14. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    PS: ‘That imagine is beautiful, probably because it is so obviously Rana, LOL

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.