Mosha the Three Legged Elephant

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Denish C.
This disabled elephant named Sama lost her right front foot to a landmine in Sri Lanka. She was fitted with an artificial foot and treated at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in Central Sri Lanka.

Landmines are an old weapon that were used heavily in WWII and continue to pose a threat today in many developing countries. In Cambodia, landmines have claimed more than 64,000 casualties since 1979. Humans are not the only casualties. Landmines in the outskirts of Cambodia along the Thai borders claim the lives of wild animals as well.

One of these animals was seven-month-old Mosha, a young female Asian elephant. In 2007, Mosha stepped on a landmine near the Cambodian border, causing her to lose her front right leg. She was immediately transported to the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Thailand. Upon her arrival, veterinarians feared for her life as she refused food, was antisocial with other elephants, and showed signs of depression.

Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, who runs a foundation for human amputees, was interested in Mosha’s case. His foundation had made prosthetic limbs for over 16,000 people at the time but had never fitted one for an elephant before. With sheer determination, Dr. Jivacate was successful in creating a new limb for Mosha made from plastic, sawdust, and metal and was suitable to support her weight and allow her to move around at a normal elephant’s pace.

Soon enough, with daily exercises prescribed by the doctor, Mosha was eating again and was happy around others. With her rapid growth, however, she had to be fitted for a new leg in 2009. She has since been fitted with two more legs as she continues to outgrow her older ones.

Mosha became famous as the world’s first elephant to be fitted for an artificial leg and was spreading hope for others of her kind. Since the hospital opened in 1993, it has attended to 15 elephant landmine victims. In 2009, a patient named Motala became the second elephant to receive a prosthetic leg.