Gentle Elephant Shot In Head Walks Up To Truck To Ask For Help
Pretty Boy, a rather handsome elephant, knew he was in serious need of help.
He had been shot, survived the attack and then walked around with his wounds for several weeks.
When veterinarians from the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation Trust (AWARE), a wildlife conservation organization in Zimbabwe, arrived at Mana Pools National Park after receiving word about the injured elephant, Pretty Boy was quick to ask for the assistance he needed without the vets having to seek him out themselves.
"He made himself available for examination within half an hour, coming right up to their car," AWARE wrote on Facebook.
"An extremely gentle and relaxed bull, the vets managed to get a good look at what immediately became apparent was a hole going into his forehead," the post reads.
The elephant was tranquilized and then taken in for an X-ray, which showed a deformed bullet present inside of his head.
"Bullets are usually sterile when they penetrate tissue as they generate so much heat, so if they don't hit a vital structure they can often be left," Dr. Lisa Marabini, director of AWARE, told The Dodo.
Such was the case with Pretty Boy, who was hit just centimeters too high for a "kill shot." Instead, the bullet glanced off his skull and caused a fracture in the bones of his sinuses. Furthermore, his head wound was infected. "It was essential to remove the dead pieces of bone so that the body could continue to heal the infection," Marabini said.
Marabini also believes that whoever shot Pretty Boy must have tried to aim for his heart, but hit his shoulder instead, as he had an abscess there as well from another bullet.
"We think he was shot outside the park and came into the park for refuge," she said. "Whether it was a poacher or a hunt gone wrong, we can only speculate."
Marabini added that a professional hunter would have used a more appropriate bullet. An old scar near Pretty Bone's spine also suggests that he may have been shot at before in the past.
But, she noted, even after all the harm humans had done him, Pretty Boy was remarkably gentle towards the people who helped him.
"I never usually feel totally comfortable getting very close to a wild elephant," she said. "But he literally emanated serenity. There were no aggressive vibes coming from him whatsoever."
Once his head wound was cleaned out, Pretty Boy was given long-lasting antibiotics and parasiticides. Once he woke back up, AWARE wrote, Pretty Boy was content enough to simply nap against a tree.
"The following day he was feeling much happier and very relaxed," AWARE wrote. "His progress will be monitored by the tour operators in the area and, if necessary, a follow-up treatment will be done."
Marabini said that, while it will take Pretty Boy some time to heal, now he has a fighting chance.
"He came 5 centimeters close to death," Marabini told Sky News. "He was lucky."
You can keep up with Pretty Boy's recovery, and read about other rescues, by following AWARE on Facebook. Want to help the organization continue doing good work for animals? See how you can contribute here.
Watch this video about a herd of elephants who helped free a baby elephant stuck in a hole: