Chhouk the elephant gets a new prosthetic


Chhouk the Asian Elephant

Twelve years ago, staff from WWF managed to capture a badly injured orphan Asian elephant from the Srepok Wilderness Area in Mondulkiri. The elephant looked as if the odds were against him to survive. Wildlife Alliance were called to the scene to transport him to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where he could get the appropriate medical treatment. However, he had lost part of one of his legs to a snare leaving him too weak to be moved. To regain the elephant’s strength, Wildlife Alliance’s Nick Marx slept in a hammock beside him, hand feeding him everything he ate. After a week, the decision was made to sedate and transport him back to Phnom Tamao in a cage the team had made from branched and banana trees. The team decided to name the elephant Chhouk, meaning lotus in Khmer.

Once back at the Center, the team’s focus turned to healing Chhouk’s leg. Each week, Chhouk was sedated and the small fragments of bone and damaged tissue were removed and the leg re-bandaged. Mr Tham, one of Phnom Tamao’s general keepers was asked if he would like to join the Wildlife Alliance team and care for Chhouk. Sleeping beside Chhouk each night, Mr Tham kept him company, as all young elephants need.

Every week, Chhouk’s leg was making remarkable progress. Taking walks in the forest with Lucky, another of Phnom Tamao’s rescued Asian elephants who had taken on the role of his big sister, was tiring him out. The team knew that something had to be done and turned their focus towards the possibility of using prosthetics.The Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) kindly agreed to take on the challenge of crafting Chhouk a prosthetic.Only a few weeks after taking the cast, the prosthetic was ready and Chhouk took to it like he had worn it all his life, happily walking in the forest! Chhouk has since become a bit of a star at Phnom Tamao, becoming Wildlife Alliance’s animal ambassador as Cambodia’s only elephant with a prosthetic leg.

Overtime, as Chhouk grows and the shoe gets worn out, the CSPO is required to make visits to remake it. In fact, the team at CSPO recently visited Chhouk in December to fit his newest shoe. See below photos of the incredible team at CSPO who did the casting, assembly and fitting. Wildlife Alliance would like to thank the team at CSPO for their hard work, dedication and expertise that ensures Chhouk can live the best life possible, despite his disabilities


via Chhouk the elephant gets a new prosthetic

Slow lorises enjoy an upgrade at rescue center


Slow lorises, the world’s only venomous primate, often fare poorly in captivity. Despite this, they are often captured from the wild and sold to be kept as pets. The illegal pet trade and the use of slow lorises in traditional medicine means we often have slow lorises coming through our care at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. Our animal care staff tries to release the lorises when they can, but injuries and human dependence means some require our long-term care. Lorises are largely insectivorous, but are usually fed on a diet of fruit when people capture them. For many years, we have tried to supplement our captive lorises’ diets by building a grasshopper capture scheme. However, it it does not sufficiently supplement their diets. We recently built a new roofless loris enclosure around some trees and installed solar night lighting to attract insects. Three lorises share the cage and keepers report that they see the lorises catching insects at night and are now eating only around 10% of the food we provide them each day.

Lucky, Asian Elephant, Shows at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center


Statement from Nick Marx, Director of Wildlife Programs

The Forestry Administration has instructed the implementation of elephant shows at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC), which officials feel will be an attraction, encouraging people to visit, in preference to the newly implemented Safari World, which is closer to Phnom Penh.  I feel it is important that I explain my reasons for agreeing to this…aside from the fact that Lucky quite enjoys performing – she likes showing off and receives titbits of food for doing so!

Wildlife Alliance is responsible for the total care of all the elephants at PTWRC – food, enclosures, staff salaries, medical care and any extras such as prostheses for Chhouk, our disabled young male elephant. Our elephants are ambassadors for their species here. Lucky, Chhouk, Sakor and Jamran are well known and much loved.

To assist with their care we have trained our elephants using reward-based, positive reinforcement training – they receive small food rewards if they do what we require. All that happens if they do not comply is they do not receive the reward. Our elephants are never beaten or abused in any way.

During the elephant shows Lucky performs some simple actions – she lifts her feet, enabling us to check the soles, she kicks a football, catches a stick. This attracts an audience and enables our head keeper, Try Sitheng, to inform them of the importance of conserving elephants, wildlife and the forests.

Sitheng also delivers a message about our training methods, which differ greatly to those used at other zoos in Cambodia and elsewhere in the region, where beatings and extreme cruelty is used to make elephants and other animals “perform”. These antiquated methods are cruel, unnecessary and outdated.

Developing countries experience different problems to the ones we may be familiar with in our own. We must adapt our approaches and put to our advantage aspects our culture finds less acceptable and which we may prefer not to be involved with. I am happy that Lucky, our much loved and thoroughly spoilt elephant, might assist in disseminating a message of conservation to Cambodian people. I am also glad that she can help in informing her audience that the scars and cruelty experienced by others of her kind in Cambodia and elsewhere are unnecessary, inexcusable and will hopefully soon be a thing of the past.

via Lucky, Asian Elephant, Shows at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center

Wildlife Alliance Collaborates with Kate Korpi Salon


Kate-Korpi-Salon-colaboration-Wildlife-AllianceStaff from Kate Korpi Salon took a wild tour at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center yesterday. Thanks Matthew Fairfax and Brianne Chappell for your support. Lucky the elephant is sure lucky to be hanging out with the Korpi team. Wildlife Alliance collaborates with Kate Korpi Salon for conservation education awareness raising. Also because Kate Korpi Salon does an amazing charity work in the salon industry by providing skills to the most vulnerable population. To find out more about Kate Korpi Salon organization please contact Matthew Fairfax.

via Wildlife Alliance Collaborates with Kate Korpi Salon

Shut ins: hornbills at rescue center seal off their nest to raise chicks


This year, two Oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) were born at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. Hornbills are very unique looking birds with unique nesting behaviors to match. The birds are partners for life and share an intimate bond while they raise their young. In the wild, pairs look for tree cavities from fallen branches that are large enough for the female to fit inside. The female works from the inside and the male from the outside to seal the entrance with mud, feces and regurgitated fruit until there is a slit just wide enough for the male’s beak to fit through. This will be the female’s home for about four months, which allows her to safely incubate their hatchling until it grows strong enough to fly. During this time, the male is the sole provider for his family and delivers food several times a day. At Phnom Tamao, this requires our keepers provide the hornbills with an artificial nest box, enough mud to seal it off, and the correct diet and sufficient fluid to prevent the mother and chick from getting dehydrated.

via Shut ins: hornbills at rescue center seal off their nest to raise chicks