Villagers Are Knitting Jumpers For Elephants To Protect Them From Near-Freezing
Elephant fashion trends are finally a thing, thanks to a diligent group of women in the northern Indian city of Mathura. Concerned for the elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation, who have been experiencing near-zero temperatures at night, the women began making elephant-sized jumpers. Pictures of the animals taken amid an ongoing cold wave, which gripped India during January 2017, the elephants looked both stylish and snugly warm in their new outfits. (1)
Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation
SOS Wildlife India is dedicated to rehabilitating abused and distressed elephants who have been kept captive. Starting in 2010, the non-profit organization began rescuing elephants from tragic circumstances in the construction and entertainment industries. As many as 20 elephants can be found at the center, roaming the conservation’s fields, scratching on trees, and taking baths in the facilities many water pools. Anyone looking to assist the work of SOS Wildlife can get involved by volunteering or donating through their ‘sponsor an elephant program’. (2)
How Much Cold Is Okay For An Elephant?
Animal welfare activists in America have long complained that elephants do not belong in cold-weather zoos. Yet, zoo officials have countered that elephants can be kept healthier in cool climates, which can cause bacteria to die and prevent infection. As for wild elephants, they can be found living naturally in a vast array of climates, including the mountains. (3)
Up in the mountains, elephants may face freezing weather, and on occasion have to huddle for warmth. But the majority of elephants do live in warm weather and tropical climates, especially in Asia. When Asian elephants have been taken into cooler climates and not provided with adequate insulation, either as a coat or in housing, arthritis and foot sores have developed during the long winters. Such arthritis and foot sores can be deadly to elephants.
Although, providing Asian elephants with jackets has not necessarily been tested for efficacy or benefit. Certainly, giving an elephant a jumper is not common practice in cold regions either like in Canada or America. Yet, coats for elephants has been done throughout Asia in the past with cold spells as a kindness to the great animal. (4)
Keeping Warm In Mathura
At the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation in Mathura, the resident pachyderms have led tough and difficult lives. Some are lame, others are blind, and they all have endured arduous living conditions in the past. For onlookers, the courteous gesture of providing warmth to the rescued creatures, whether needed or not, is heartwarming.
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, told the Times of India that “It is important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold during this extreme winter, as they are weak and vulnerable having suffered so much abuse making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia. The cold also aggravates their arthritis which is a common issue that our recused elephants have to deal with.” At this time, a link between climate change and these weather events is unclear. But for many, compassion at the local level, and awareness at the global level is a positive sign for the future!
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