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‘Heartbroken’ vets report ‘Chompu’ the elephant’s death

national October 23, 2017 01:00

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A team of veterinarians yesterday apologised that they could not save the life of a male elephant that had been found stuck in a canal in Phitsanulok province and transferred to Lampang for treatment.

A team member described feeling heartbroken after being unable to help the animal.

The vets said the elephant had died from kidney failure related to extreme stress, which resulted in secretions that overwhelmed its kidneys and other organs.

The elephant, which was initially called “Tara”, or water, and then renamed “Chompu”, the name of the canal, was spotted stuck in the muddy canal in Phitsanulok’s Noen Maprang district last week. 

Authorities and villagers mobilised help for the elephant but initial attempts failed due to a strong current, bad weather and resistance by the wild animal, which was linked to its unfamiliarity with humans.

After about 26 hours, the animal was pulled out and vets saw that its hind legs had been injured, leaving it unable to stand. The elephant was then lifted into a truck and transported to Lampang, which took about 10 hours.

A vet previously had warned that the animal only had a 50percent chance of survival because of its injured legs and inability to stand.

The elephant arrived in Lampang on Friday and died peacefully on Saturday night. 

Dr Thaweepoke Angkawanich, of the National Elephant Institute in Lampang, said he wanted to apologise in particular to villagers in Noen Maprang district. “They helped the elephant, gave us moral support and monitored developments even when the elephant was transferred to Lampang,” he said.

The team had made their best effort to save the elephant and never thought that it would die, he said.

Thaweepoke added that the team had learned a lot from Chompu’s death and would be able to handle similar situations in the future.

Dr Nikorn Thongtip, from the Veterinary Science Faculty, Kasetsart University, said that because Chompu was a wild elephant, it had experienced elevated stress levels due to its proximity to humans.

 “Chompu had inflamed muscles throughout its body as a result of stress. We learned about this from blood tests and tried to closely monitor its condition. We did our best and with this, we learned a lesson together,” he said.

Dr Weerapong Tangjitcharoen, from the Veterinary Science Faculty, Chiang Mai University, said the team had tried their hardest to save the elephant’s life. “If asked about my feelings, I must say that I am heartbroken,” he said.

One of the vets described the elephant dying peacefully as a veterinarian was examining it. “Chompu just kneeled down and died,” he said. 

A religious rite was held yesterday for the elephant at the National Elephant Institute. Lab tests to determine the cause of death will be known within two weeks. Chompu’s plight hit the headlines of both print and online media with digital TV stations sending teams to Phitsanulok and Lampang to report the story.


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