Parts of north India, including the national capital New Delhi and adjoining states, are in the grip of sizzling summer heat.
With the monsoon at least a week away, and the mercury hovering well over 42 degrees, it is not just us humans that are suffering, it is impacting the animals and birds too.
But for a group of elephants, in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, there is some respite.
The elephants who are in the care of NGO Wildlife SOS have access to their very own Jumbo swimming pools as well as water sprinklers that create cool zones inside their free-ranging enclosures.
The NGO, which runs the Elephant Conservation & Care Centre in Mathura is currently home to 29 pachyderms, all of them who were rescued from years or even decades of abuse.
The elephants thoroughly enjoy spending time in their personal pools. While the older elephants prefer spending hours simply relaxing in the cool refreshing water some of the younger, more playful ones like Peanut, Coconut, Laxmi and Chanchal can be seen diving headfirst into the water and playing with rubber tyres inside the pool.
The pools are 400-square-feet and 6-feet-deep. To provide easy access for the elephants, there is an inclined ramp leading into each pool. Apart from providing respite from the heat, the buoyancy of the water helps take the massive weight off the elephants feet and helps them to relax.
“The elephants spend hours in the pools and it fills our hearts with joy to watch them simply relaxing in the water. We also take them to the Yamuna river which they thoroughly enjoy,” Baiju Raj MV, Director – Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS said.
India’s first Jumbo Hydrotherapy pool
Wildlife SOS is also home to India’s first Jumbo Hydrotherapy pool for elephants at the Elephant Hospital in Mathura. An effective complementary treatment for the elephants’ painful joints and feet is hydrotherapy, a form of physical therapy that uses the therapeutic benefits of water to perform physical rehabilitation in animals.
Exerting hydrostatic pressure that compresses muscle and joints, hydrotherapy helps in relieving chronic muscle aches as well as rebuild muscle memory with its natural resistance.
The hydrotherapy pool is 11-foot-deep and has 21 high-pressure jet sprays that create water pressure that massage the elephants’ feet and body and help in increasing blood circulation.
The elephants at Wildlife SOS have been rescued from extremely stressful conditions such as performing in circuses, giving tourist rides, begging on the streets and being used in wedding processions, etc.
They were often made to navigate environments that their body was not built for or were chained for hours on concrete that led to an early onset of arthritis. Lack of nutrition and improper foot care also resulted in overgrown toenails and cuticles, making them vulnerable to cracking. This made walking or even standing highly painful for these wide-ranging animals.
“Apart from the jumbo pools, the elephants have been placed on a summer diet consisting of seasonal fruits like watermelons, musk melons and cucumbers which helps keep them hydrated. We are also giving glucose water, electrolyte solution and herbal medication to prevent heat strokes and dehydration,” Dr. Ilayaraja, Deputy Director of Veterinary Services at Wildlife SOS said.