Sunday, July 24, 2005

Home for Elephants

In Kerala, a home for 62 elephants, and a month-long rest for the jumbos:
During these 30 days of an annual sukhachikitsa (administration of restorative health care and treatment) session (it commences on July 1), they will be free from the exacting "parade duties" of festival processions. For them, it is a period of complete rest, frolic, feasts and rejuvenation.

The jumbos at the Punnathoor Kotta are plied with sumptuous and highly nutritious food, laced with ayurvedic and allopathic medicines. It ends with an elaborate bath that will almost mirror the effect of a thorough massage therapy every day. This rejuvenation care session for elephants was a unique initiative of the Devaswom, when it was started some 20 years ago. According to veterinarian K.C. Panikker, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have started sukhachikitsa for elephants in sanctuaries there.

The initiative has its roots in the intense man-elephant bond that has always existed in Kerala, and in the best traditions of elephant management practices inspired by that bond. The bond has been so strong, at least in Central Kerala where becoming a mahout had often been the cherished "career and goal" of many an adolescent even in upper middle class families.

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