Asian Elephant Support has previously collaborated with ElefantAsia on medicines for their mobile clinics and a second dart gun. In August, 2013, AES president Linda delivered to the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury, Laos, a portable scale. It was on this trip that she met Noy, a young orphaned calf the Wildlife Department brought to the ECC for care. It was the too-familiar seesaw of periods of improvement followed by not so good times, The scale was finally showing some steady weight gains when tragedy struck and we believe it is best told by those who were with him and caring for him.
Noy arrived in ECC at the end of May. He had been spotted by villagers in a farm, close to Nam Pouy's protected area. We told you about his story there. Exactly one month ago, Noy had an accidental fall that left him with severely restricted mobility of his hind legs. He fell down a slope inside his enclosure, a sliding fall of approxiately 1.5 meters, which under normal circumstances would be very unlikely to cause large trauma. A veterinary team was with him within 30 seconds. Unfortunately, radiography is impossible on animals Noy’s size, so there was no way of knowing all of the underlying causes of his symptoms. In the hope that his injuries were reversible, and to avoid and ease the many side effects that comes from being 400 kilos and immobile, Noy has had a devoted team of veterinarians, a biologist, assistants, students and friends working around the clock to try to rehabilitate him and at least keep him happy.
Devastatingly, despite all the best efforts, Noy’s condition had not improved as hoped, but instead in the last few days it declined rapidly until finally yesterday he died quietly.
The post mortem investigations showed that bones in Noy’s back legs were broken in his fall and that he suffered from metabolic bone disease, which means that the skeleton is not as strong as it should be.
Metabolic bone disease is a condition that is painfully common among orphan elephant babies, who don’t get access to the important mother’s milk. From his first day in the center, Noy had been given a carefully composed diet, including mineral supplements and great efforts had been made to provide everything a growing baby elephant body needs. Unfortunately, baby elephants cannot digest cow’s milk and there is no perfect formula that would meet their special needs. The uptake of minerals to the bones is very complex and even with all the building blocks provided, Noy’s body had not been able to create strong enough bones. No cure exists for broken legs in elephants; he would never have been able to walk again.
We will always remember this beautiful and amazingly strong little elephant that touched so many hearts.
After a ceremony, where all the team was able to say goodbye. Noy is now in the forest where he loved to play, resting forever together with his best friends, the red and green plastic reindeer, Jean Paul I and II.