The five-ton elephant rescued from mud hole, but unable to stand up or move

A rescue team in Thailand succeeded Thursday in hauling a partially lame elephant out of a mud hole in which he was stuck, but the five-ton beast was unable to stand up or be moved further.

A wild elephant that had been stuck in mud is hoisted up by a backhoe as rescue team members try to support the animal in eastern Thailand on Thursday. The elephant failed to stay on its feet, stumbled and went back down on the ground after the ropes were released from the backhoe.Apichart Weerawong / AP



July 13, 2006, 7:06 AM WIB / Source: The Associated Press

An animal medical rescue team succeeded Thursday in hauling a partially lame elephant out of a mud hole in which he was stuck, but the five-ton beast was unable to stand up or be moved further.

The elephant had been lying on its side since getting stuck in the mud last week inside the massive Khao Ang Rue-Ni wildlife sanctuary, which sprawls over parts of five provinces in eastern Thailand.

Its left hind leg had become stuck in deep mud, and it was unable to lift itself out because of a previous injury to its right rear leg that had left it partly lame. Veterinarians had already been treating it in the wild for several months.

Elephants used to roam all around Thailand, but now only an estimated 3,000 wild elephants survive in national parks and other sanctuaries. Deforestation has forced many to move into surrounding farming communities in search of food.

A roughly equal number of elephants are domesticated, eking out a living as tourist attractions or beggars who roam Bangkok and other cities with their keepers.

After learning of the partly lame elephant’s latest plight, a dozen forestry workers and veterinarians rushed to its aid earlier this week, but were unable to push it out of the hole.

Partial progressOn Thursday, however, they made partial progress by fastening a sling to the scoop of a backhoe, and hoisting the elephant so its leg would be free of the mud.

However, the elephant was unable to stand on its own, and fell over on its side next to the mud hole.


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