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Mosha, the world’s first recipient of a prosthetic leg specifically designed for elephants, has received her newer, strong prosthetic to accommodate her growth.
Mosha, a nine-year-old elephant that stepped on a land mine in Thailand when she was just seven months old, has received a new prosthetic limb. The new limb is different from past prosthetics made for Mosha.
The new prosthetic is made of wood, metal and composite plastic to allow Mosha to maintain the same level of movement as other elephants. Elephants put two-thirds of their weight on their front legs, so new prosthetics are essential for Mosha.
Concerns of an injury to her good front leg left caretakers worried. If Mosha were to hurt her good leg, she might have to be euthanized.
World-famous, Mosha was the first elephant in the world to receive a prosthetic leg. Two days after losing her limb, she was transported to the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital in northern Thailand to recover. Mosha has remained at FAE ever since.
Dr. Therdchai Jivacate designed her first prosthetic and still designs new prosthetics as Mosha ages. Every few years, new prosthetics are made to accommodate Mosha’s growth. Jivacate stresses that if an elephant cannot walk, it will die. Stronger composite materials that allow her to walk naturally are added into each prosthetic upgrade.
Mosha, who was forced to walk around on three legs while waiting for her new prosthetic, showed immediate signs of approval when the prosthetic was placed on her leg. In a video posted online, Mosha was seen celebrating by blowing sand on to her back with her trunk.
The international Mine Ban Treaty, signed 15 years ago, has reduced land mines across the world. Every year, people are killed or wounded by stepping on land mines that have been abandoned.
Since opening in 1993, the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital has treated over two dozen elephants that have stepped on land mines in Thailand.