I went to see Sambo the temple elephant a few days ago and her feet are terrible.
Her nails are too long and she was lifting her right foot constantly in pain. I see on the 'Sombo' facebook page you checked her feet.
She learned that: the Governor in Phnom Penh does not want elephants in the city. Sambo was banned from the city last November due to public complaining that she was causing traffic jams.
Eventually, Sambos condition worsed during the summer, and on those videos its easy to see how difficault she has to walk.
Later, in June, Louise wrote me: My primary concern, like you, is that Sambo gets the veterinary care that she urgently needs.
At the end of September she was looking better, her owner had done some work on her feet, though her front right foot was still very much in pain, and she could not walk on it. She was constantly blowing spit on it, hitting it with food, lifting it and swinging, and even spent 30mins resting it on a bench.
Hearing this, with that pressure from the hard surface, I started to believe that she probably suffer from sever inflammations inside the foot, something that was later confirmed. Contrary to my previous opinion, I started to think that the ridings at Wat Phnom should be stopped.
In beginning of october, Louise Rogerson saw Sambo again, and noticed something we didnt know before, but which I saw indications of, looking at Sambos dirty shoes, on my visit to her night quarters:
In her right frontfoot, which I noticed before she would often restrict to put body weight on, had a big abcess, and the infection had most probably reached the delicate part of the foots skeleton.
This is also the reason why she standing with the right frontfoot in the air.
She had been standing in wet grass field, with no shoes for 3 or 4 days a week, and she was only putting down the right front foot to walk, othervise she held it in the air constantly.
I started to change idea about Sambos owner, Sin Sorn. Maybe he was aware of Sambos situation, and just didnt care? Maybe he just worked her every day, so people would see her as a wellknown institutuin at Phnom Penh, and if she died, it would be easy for him to replace her with one of his younger elephants?
If so, he was indeed doing a Death March with her now.
EARS funded and supported the entire medical examination for Sambo. Dr Paolo Martelli, DMV (liege), CertZooMed (RCVS), Chief Veterinarian, Ocean Park, Hong Kong, flew to Phnom Penh to issue a full medical report. Before he went, we had correspondence, and exchanged ideas.
His conclusion states that she is painfully lame as a result of pododermatitis, osteitis, ostoelysis, deep sepsis and other lesions.
Furthermore, if the lameness is not improved drastically it will lead to degeneration of all joints in all limbs. This will result in an incapacitated animal. The main reason explaining the limb lesions is the lifestyle of the animal which involves walking on hard ground, and walking on hard ground on damaged feet. Read more
Louise wrote the following day: Dr Martelli showed the owners correct foot care - how to file Sambo's nails and pare down the soles of her feet. It will be a very long and slow recovery. We are discussing the report tomorrow. The owners confirmed today they will NOT use her for riding again but they still wish to walk her to the temple 4 days a week. It's a step by step process...
And through her organisation, Louise can fund needed medical attention and medicines, provided shes taken to a place with a soft ground:
EARS will fund the entire medical treatment if Sambo is retired. As advised by the vet, we are unable to treat her whilst she still walks on hard ground (asphalt road).
For most people it should by now be clear that she should be retired.
But not for her owner, Sin Sorn. Louise wrote me 2nd of November I knew Sin Sorn would not completely rest Sambo yet, but at least the chair is off her back. They've confirmed they won't use her for rides anymore. Another positive step...They want her at the temple but will not walk her around the temple with the chair on her back. She will not give rides. She will stand there so tourists can see her but not ride her.
But, when she passed the temple some hours later:
Louise Rogerson 2nd of November 2011:
Sambo was at the temple at 7am this morning until 4pm. She had the chair on her back and gave a ride at 9am. Vanthet was there, I had a lot of calm but stern words with him. Then they called his brother in the USA. They want USD 1,500 a month if Sambo stops working... even then they say they will walk her. It's outrageous. I have tried to work WITH them and be sensitive but they are happy to work her to death. I was so angry this morning.
I arrived in Phnom Penh in December, and met Louise again. She was very frustrated, which I fully understand, since Sambo is still walked to the temple, to carry tourists on her back. And by now, the owner Sin Sorn has no excuse anymore, the veterinary report tells in black and white, what most animal persons would understand, only by seing Sambos problems of walking. Read More: EARS Asia website.
She showed me a new taken video (2nd of December) where you can clearly see how Sambos right foot is worse.
Watch the video closely, and you will notice that when she puts down the right foot on the ground, the whole joint is moving hence and forth, horizontally. The entire knee joint is now instabile.
He can not be unaware about her problems anymore. This qualifies his actions as sever abuse of his animal.
And as for Sin Sorns "love" for his elephant, this can now be highly questioned. He should have retired her long ago, if he was a caring, responsible elephant owner.Every day, for 9 hours, she has been at Wat Phnom, standing still on command on stones, when not being ridden by tourists, and then walked on the streets and pavements 4 km to her night shelter. Lately, her time at Wat Phnom has been reduced, but her feet are finished. Shes not a working animal anymore, shes a patient in need of qualified medical care. Her problems will probably remin permanent.
Most elephant owners would realize that she should not work any longer.
But shes still limping around the temple...