India opens first-ever elephant hospital near Taj Mahal

07:57 PM | 18 Nov, 2018
India opens first-ever elephant hospital near Taj Mahal
AGRA - India's first elephant hospital in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh aims to treat elephants rescued from captivity and injured in accidents.

The hospital, which is in Mathura, was formally inaugurated by Agra Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar on Friday. It is spread over 12,000 square feet and is designed to treat injured, sick or geriatric elephants.

The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and the NGO Wildlife SOS together helped to build and organise the facility, which will provide wireless digital x-rays, x-rays for dental purposes as well, tranquilising facilities and also amenities for quarantine purposes.

“The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital is designed to treat injured, sick or geriatric elephants and is equipped with a medical hoist for lifting elephants requiring critical care, a pathology laboratory, digital weighing scale, Elephant Restraining Device (ERD) with a dedicated indoor treatment enclosure for longer medical procedures,” Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan told The Hindu.

The facility, armed with facilities such as wireless digital X-Ray, thermal imaging, ultrasonography, tranquilization devices and quarantine facilities, has not only come as a respite to the elephants but is also attracting local and foreign tourists.

Elephants are an important part of India’s culture and are prominently displayed in festivals and processions in the south of the country. They are also used as tourist attractions at several forts and palaces in the northern and western regions.

India’s elephant population fell to 27,312 in 2017 from 29,391-30,711 in 2012, government data shows.

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Hundreds of elephants across India, which accounts for more than half of Asia’s elephant population, are held in captivity and sharp metal hooks are often used to pinch and tease them into subordination.

The hospital, on the banks of the Yamuna River, is close to an elephant conservation and care centre run by Wildlife SOS that is home to 22 elephants.