Completed Welfare Projects

DWC support for confiscation of illegally caught baby elephants

From 2015 to 2016, Elemotion Foundation supports the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation’s efforts to confiscate illegally caught wild baby and juvenile elephants from their criminal owners. In recent years, the poaching of live wild baby elephants for private collection has been rampant. A profitable black market ring of crooked buyers, sellers, smugglers, and enablers has been able to illegally capture and hold, probably over 100, baby elephants from national parks in the country. These unfortunate babies, stolen from their wild mothers, are held prisoner in temples and private gardens of the rich and powerful as symbols of status and prestige. None of the owners has the knowledge to properly care for the babies; therefore, they are left to struggle in horrific conditions.

Baby elephant penUnder a new government, the DWC has been given more authority to begin confiscations. Elemotion Foundation has supported these efforts by donating a collapsable steel pen for the temporary holding of the baby elephants at the DWC Colombo headquarters, a LCD monitor for surveillance of the babies at their rehabilitation facility, and we have provided medical support to new keepers working to rehabilitate the confiscated elephants. We will continue to speak out about this illegal activity. We are proud of the brave men of the DWC’s flying squad who conduct the confiscations and all those working hard make these confiscations possible. (photo shows a newly arrived confiscated elephant in our steel pen)

Now, we just hope these babies will have their day in court and justice will be brought to the criminals who imprisoned them.

Chain cut wound prevention

Hose project comparisonElemotion Foundation helps to eradicate chain cut wounds by providing free firehose.

While we wish all captive elephants could live chain free, this is not the reality. Improper use of chains leads to painful wounds causing infections and possibly even death. However, by providing free firehose, we can help eradicate these painful chain wounds. The chains are threaded through the hose creating a barrier between the metal chain and the elephant’s sensitive skin.

In spring 2013, we began talks with a large captive elephant facility. The facility had many, long term, severe cases of chain cut wounds, especially on younger animals. For privacy reasons, we cannot reveal the identity of the facility.

Over the next four months, Elemotion sent hose samples while veterinary staff conducted trials with each type of hose. Samples varied by age (new or used), style of casing (single or double jacket), and diameter. By summer, the winning combination was found.

After 6 months and 50ft of hose, chain cut wounds were healed and no animal was suffering from this problem. The facility pledged to make hosing a regular part of the management policy.

Elemotion Foundation was happy the facility staff was open to this technique, stayed committed, and trained the mahouts to better care for their elephants. Although we cannot remove the chains completely, we will continue to follow this project through and check in on the elephants.

BLES Medical Protocol

BoonLottElemotion Foundation believes all captive elephant facilities should operate with a health program that includes yearly check-ups, staff health screening, and disease prevention. We support Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary’s (BLES) efforts to build an elephant clinic near Sukhothai, Thailand.

After months of research and with the guidance of top veterinarians specialized in elephant medicine, Elemotion Foundation completed a medical protocol adapted to the specific needs of BLES. It includes: an elephant profile form, mahout/owner questionnaire, diagnoses records, vaccination records, lab result records, detailed physical examination form, AZA Quarantine guidelines, and preventative care measures.

The long version of the protocol is available here. It may be copied and adapted by a qualified veterinarian to fit the needs of other captive elephant establishments. Elemotion Foundation believes in openly sharing our work in the hopes that other facilities will adopt a medical protocol of their own. Today, it has been shared with Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Nepal. PDF’s are best when viewed with Adobe Reader (available for PC and Mac).


The foundation would like to thank Dr. Susan Mikota, Dr. Sumolya Kanchanapangka, and veterinary technician Monica Stewart.  Their knowledge and guidance was essential to the successful completion of this project.

AsESG guidelines, AZA Standards for Elephant Management and Care, ‘Elephants and Their Diseases’ by Griffith H. Evans, and ‘Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants’ by Murray E. Folwer and Susan K. Mikota were used as references.

Thong Tae

TTgrassIn October 2010, while visiting a forest reintroduction project for captive elephants near Mae Chaem, Thailand, Elemotion recognized a little 2-year old elephant named Thong Tae.

In the past, Thong Tae had been a fat, happy elephant. Sadly, when we found him, he was not in good condition. He was tethered to a short chain in a sloped village backyard, pale, aggressive, and rocking violently. He had been separated from his mother and put through traditional violent beatings in order to train him for work.

We could not turn our back on this little elephant. That same day, it was agreed that Elemotion would support Thong Tae so he could stop training and immediately rejoin the forest reintroduction program.

At first, Thong Tae was scared to be in the forest alone. The staff tried twice to reunite Thong Tae with his mother, but she rejected him. But with the care of his mahout, Mr. Pakeduh, Thong Tae eventually improved and gained weight. Pumpkin and other treats were brought to him to help supplement his diet. Elemotion began to think about how to arrange for Thong Tae’s long-term care.

TT&PumpkinSuddenly, on Tuesday March 29th, 2011, Thong Tae seemed sluggish and uninterested in food. This depressed state continued for the next two days until he passed away Thursday, sometime in the night of March 31st, just one month and 10 days before his third birthday. He had participated in the forest reintroduction program for only 6 months.

Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHV) is a common virus that affects both wild and captive African and Asian elephants. While African elephants are not as affected by the virus, it is highly fatal when contracted by Asian elephants between the ages of 0-5. It is suspected to be responsible for almost 50% of the deaths of young zoo elephants.

Elemotion researched EEHV and contacted Dr. Erin Latimer of the National Herpesvirus Laboratory at the Smithsonian Zoo to learn about the latest in EEHV testing.

Only after Thong Tae’s passing did we learn of other people who loved him and were deeply moved by his death. Thong Tae’s death inspired Elemotion to help captive elephant facilities create a routine health program including annual check-ups, screenings, and preventative care measures.