A heartwarming video of an Asian elephant in Cambodia receiving a new prosthetic limb has captured the attention of social media users. The footage, posted on TikTok by TV presenter and wildlife photographer Cameron Whitnall, has gone viral with over 3.7 million views. The elephant, named Chhouk, was discovered in 2007 when he was less than a year old, wandering alone in the forest in northeast Cambodia with a missing foot due to a poacher’s snare. He was also severely malnourished and gravely ill from the infected wound.
In a heartwarming video, Cameron Whitnall is seen holding Chhouk’s prosthetic foot as the elephant walks with it. Chhouk was saved by Nick Marx, the Wildlife Alliance’s director in Cambodia, and has been living at the center ever since. Though it’s not very common for animals to have prosthetic limbs, Whitnall has witnessed elephants, vultures, toucans, and other animals receive them. However, such threats as snares usually end up killing the animal. Fortunately, Wildlife Alliance rescued Chhouk in time and built him a prosthesis. Chhouk’s replaceable feet were designed and constructed by the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics and funded by Whitnall’s family zoo, Paradise Wildlife Park. The foot itself is made from recycled tires, plastics, and foam to ensure comfort. Weighing about 44 pounds, the foot needs to be extremely sturdy to support Chhouk’s 9-foot-tall and 20-meter-long frame. With the help of fantastic vets, conservation organizations, good zoos, and kind-hearted people, animals can lead a better quality of life with prosthetic limbs like Chhouk.
Chhouk, an elephant, has a prosthetic foot that allows him to walk, but it needs to be changed every six months due to his growth. The keepers train Chhouk using positive reinforcement techniques by rewarding him with tasty treats like coconut during the shoe-changing process. This way, Chhouk associates it with a positive experience. In a TikTok video, Cameron Whitnall walks his followers through the process of replacing Chhouk’s foot and explains how the team uses a sleeve to reduce infections and sores, and how Chhouk kindly lifts his leg to make it easier. The video has gained popularity on TikTok, with many users expressing their admiration for Chhouk’s understanding and calling him their favorite elephant.