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Karachi elephants receive dental surgery

Last captive elephants from Pakistani zoo undergO one-of-a-kind tusk surgery

International vet team from FOUR PAWS performs innovative super-size procedure 

8/18/2022

Karachi/ August 19, 2022 – The last four captive elephants in Pakistan received medical treatments from vets and experts from FOUR PAWS International this week. The global animal welfare organization was invited to help the animals in two zoos in Karachi by the Pakistani authorities as four female African elephants were in sever pain.

From August 16th to August 19th, FOUR PAWS performed complicated and unique major surgery on two elephants, Madhubala and Noor Jehan, in Karachi Zoo. Madhubala was suffering from severe pain caused by a broken tusk and subsequent infection. The other two elephants at Karachi Safari Park. Malika and Sonu, received treatment for their feet and nails.

FOUR PAWS supports the local authorities and elephant caretakers to ensure all four elephants can now live pain-free from here on out. The international team of veterinarians and wildlife experts was led by FOUR PAWS’ vet Dr Amir Khalil and included Dr. Marina Ivanova from FOUR PAWS, and Dr. Frank Göritz and Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW).

16 and 17-year-old Noor Jehan and Madhubala at Karachi Zoo were suffering from severe dental problems. Instead of a traditional approach, the team used a less invasive, unique new technique that requires less complicated aftercare, given the conditions at the zoo. They used specially designed drills and endodontic burs along other dental instruments.

“Their tusks were broken, and the tissue inside the wounds was inflamed and infected. They were in a lot of pain and without treatment the inflammation would have expanded and caused blindness or even brain damage and death. We sedated the standing elephants, removed the dead tissue, cleaned the root canal, and taught the local caretakers how to conduct regular post-treatment flushing to prevent further inflammation and clean the wounds. All went well and we expect good results for the elephant’s recovery. This was a very important step to improve their wellbeing.”

-Dr. Amil Khalil, FOUR PAWS veterinarian

Elephants Malika and Sonia at Karachi Safari Park suffered from cracked and overgrown nails and footpads and abscesses which the team treated and provided aftercare instructions to the local team.

The experts had also provided an assessment on the wellbeing and health condition of the elephants in November 2021.

“Our recommendation includes that all four elephants should be reunited at Karachi Safari Park once they have recovered from the surgery. Also, they need a species-appropriate diet and enrichment must be provided. We are also helping to train the local caretakers so they can take the best care of the elephants. We are happy to help with any further improvements to implement our recommendations,” adds Dr Khalil.

CEO of FOUR PAWS Josef Pfabigan stated, “At FOUR PAWS, we rescue animals, and in doing so also reveal systemic problems and legal shortcomings and raise awareness for why these issues matter. In Pakistan, recent developments are exciting: The Islamabad High Court in Pakistan has recognized that animals have natural legal rights. This means that they are entitled to protection under the nation’s Constitution. Pakistan has recently also agreed to stop the import of elephants into the country. FOUR PAWS had previously advised the Ministry of Climate Change to not allow any new elephants coming to Pakistan. This shows what strategic policy work and good working relations between animal welfare experts such as FOUR PAWS and local officials can achieve. We do hope that this good cooperation can be continued and extended to other animal welfare issues.”

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.fourpawsusa.org 

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