The first elephant to don a prosthetic limb is challenging surgeons to create bigger, better legs.
Mosha lost her right foreleg below the knee in a landmine explosion when she was seven months old. Therdchai Jivacate, a surgeon who designs prosthetic legs for humans and other animals, met her in 2007 at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand.
“When I saw Mosha, I noticed that she had to keep raising her trunk into the air in order to walk properly,” Jivacate told Motherboard.
He built a prosthetic leg for Mosha that relieved the strain she had been putting on her limbs and spine. As the young elephant grows, the team must keep trading up to heftier prostheses.
Mosha’s first leg was crafted from thermoplastic, steel, and elastomer. But Jivacate is still searching for materials that will stand up to very heavy use, as Mosha now weighs well over 4,000 pounds.