elephant vet

Meow showing a swelling on his shoulder that had been treated with honey and red lime

Our veterinary officer, Dr Aon, recently had call-outs to two male elephants suffering from injuries, luckily neither of them serious, though they could have developed into more severe problems had the owners not contacted our veterinary centre when they did. News is travelling fast around Southern Thailand that a good vet is available to treat elephants free of charge and without judgement. So, elephant owners – often poor mahouts living at subsistence level – now feel happy to contact Dr Aon at the first sign of trouble. This means that injuries, infections, gastrointestinal disorders and more, can all be dealt with before they become major problems.

First on the list for the mobile clinic was an elephant called Meow, a tusk-less 29 year old male with an abscess on his right hind foot and swellings on his left shoulder and right abdomen. Both the abscess and the swellings had occurred during Meow’s work as a timber elephant, and his owner had initially treated the swellings with a mixture of red lime and honey – a traditional treatment among elephant owners. But the abscess was producing white pus, so, after taking blood tests, Dr Aon decided that antibiotic and ant-inflammatory injections were needed to deal with both the abscess and the swellings. She also cleaned the wound carefully, showing the owner how to do this, and leaving him with the necessary equipment to continue with regular cleaning.

Next up was Nam Petch, an 20 year old based in Ka Pong, Phang Nga. His owner had called Dr Aon after spotting pus at the base of his elephant’s right tusk. Dr Aon could find no swelling and no external wounds. Her conclusion was that Nam Petch might have received a minor injury caused by something sharp which created a lesion inside the skin at the top of the tusk. Once again antibiotics and anti-inflammatory were given intramuscularly, every three days, and after a week the pus had cleared up.

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