India’s First Elephant Hospital Just Opened and Animal Activists Agree It’s a Step in the Right Direction

By Yelena Mandenberg Yelena Mandenberg has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 26, 2020

In a country where elephants are revered, they’re also often abused. India’s first elephant hospital opened up last week to cheers from animal activists, tourists, and residents across the country.

In the Hindu holy town of Mathurah, vets and scientists were able to secure funding to open this high-tech elephant hospital. It’s equipped with the latest devices, including “wireless digital X-Ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, tranquilization devices, and quarantine facilities,” according to Reuters. All of the services are also portable, so doctors can travel to their very large patients wherever they may be.

Elephants are integral to Indian culture, and because of that, they’re often used as roadside attractions for tourists, in festivals and celebrations, zoos, shows, and processions. Unfortunately, many of these creatures are also mistreated. They may not have been abused on purpose, but at the end of the day, when you lock up one of the earth’s largest mammals, they don’t fare well.

“I think by building a hospital we are underlining the fact that elephants need welfare measures as much as any other animal,” Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, the non-profit behind the hospital, told Reuters TV. “That captive elephants are not meant to be used and abused but instead have to be given the respect which an animal needs if you are going to be using the animal.”

According to Reuters, the reason that many of these elephants need treatment after captivity is that their owners are ill-informed. Elephants owned by people often fall victim to abusive training behaviors (whipping, electrocution), poisoning, malnutrition, and even train accidents.

“These elephants go through a lot of abuse, brutality, cruelty in order to be ridden,” Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan told the BBC. “And through that process, they develop abscesses, internal problems, back problems, all kinds of health issues that need to be addressed.”

Government data shows that India’s elephant population fell to 27,312 in 2017 from 29,391-30,711 in 2012. In a place where the wildlife is continually threatened, any decrease in elephant population is significant. These large creatures need space to roam and collect food, and their habitats are threatened by human expansion.

The hundreds of elephants across India that are held in captivity account for more than half of Asia’s elephant population.

The new hospital is located right next to an elephant preserve, which is currently home to more than 22 elephants. The care center is run by Wildlife SOS.

Elizabeth Ritson, a tourist from Australia, said, “Look at them, they are so much happier and when you see the abuse that they have been through, the horrible shackles that were put on their feet and to see them all healed up, it’s just really nice.”


By Yelena Mandenberg Yelena Mandenberg has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Yelena Mandenberg is the Ideas Editor at Grit Daily with a passion for news of all sorts. Finishing Brooklyn College with a degree in Print Media Journalism as the industry died out, she began working as a freelancer.After spending some time working in the retail industry, Yelena started BK Riot Writing, a marketing company that caters to small and local businesses, creating content that helps them compete. From her South Brooklyn apartment where she lives with her cat & tortoise, Yelena is always seeking something new and interesting to cover.

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