Baby elephant injured from animal snare gets hydrotherapy treatment

A five-month-old baby elephant took a tentative dip in a swimming pool in Thailand on Thursday, January 5th as part of a lengthy rehabilitation process to heal her injured foot.

Baby Fah Jam's front left leg was caught in a trap set by villagers in Chanthaburi, 155 miles southeast of the Thai capital Bangkok, in November.

Fah Jam was then looked after Pattaya's Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, a private own tourist attraction outside Bangkok. There, other elephants were able to nurse her and help her survive.

But though the wound and her health improved significantly, she refused to put any weight on her injured leg.

Veterinarian Padet Siridumrong said Fah Jam was now showing signs of improvement following a second round of water-based exercises known as hydrotherapy.

"By her fourth or fifth sessions she will enjoy swimming more. She's just a baby elephant, that's why she's a bit scared at first but, by nature, elephants love the water," Padet said.

The treatment, which hopes to ensure she doesn't have to rely on a prosthetic leg, could take up to two months, he added.

The elephant is Thailand's national animal and popular with foreign tourists who are offered elephant jungle treks or rides around ancient ruins and temples. Animal rights groups have criticized the use of elephants in the tourism industry, arguing that the animals could be mistreated.

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There are some 3,700 elephants left in the wild in Thailand and up to 4,000 domesticated elephants, according to EleAid, a U.K.-based organization that works for the conservation of the Asian elephant.

Deforestation, rapid urbanization and poaching of elephants for their ivory have all contributed to a dramatic decline in the country's wild elephant population.