Katherine Connor founded a sanctuary for abused elephants

On a recent afternoon Katherine Connor was kneeling down in the dust before Wassana, a three-ton Asian elephant that still bears the scars of her former life.

For the British-born animal activist, getting down and dirty is part of her daily routine, and she was on her knees to tend to the older female elephant’s foot.

Wassana was once a work elephant forced to haul heavy logs deep in the jungle near Thailand’s northern border with war-torn Myanmar (formerly Burma). One day more than a decade ago she stepped on a land mine, which damaged part of one of her front feet. She still walks with a limp.

Every day Ms. Connor, who runs an elephant sanctuary she set up near the historical northern Thai town of Sukhothai, cleans and dresses the animal’s foot. She also tends to the ailments and infirmities of the 10 other rescued jumbos, many of them older, in her care.

“She’s a beautiful animal,” notes Connor as she applies some salve to Wassana. “You see their scars and injuries, but you still can’t fathom what they’ve been through.”

Wassana, whose name means “Fortune” in Thai, endures the treatment with stoic resilience, at one point balling up the tip of her trunk and placing it in her mouth the way some people bite on a forefinger when they’re in pain.

“This is hurting her, and she could easily flick me aside, but she doesn’t,” Connor observes. “I really do think she knows we’re trying to help her.”

source : http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2014/0627/Katherine-Connor-founded-a-sanctuary-for-abused-elephants

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