“The question is, are we happy to suppose
that our grandchildren may never be able to see
an elephant except in a picture book?”
She was found abandoned at 6 months old after her mother was killed by poachers. Now, at 15 years old, she is one of the most popular animals out of 1,200 other rescued animals at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in Cambodia.
Her name is Lucky. She is an Asian elephant who has been battling a series of illnesses, which started with a fatal elephant virus.
Earlier this year, Lucky stopped eating and had to be fed and medicated through an intravenous drip into veins in her ear. Nick Marx, wildlife rescue director and his team battled for weeks to keep the plucky pachyderm alive. The $40,000 cost of her treatment quickly drained the resources of the rescue center as well as Marx’s savings.
To raise money for Lucky’s treatment, she was taught to paint on canvases as well as T-shirts. Using a rewards-based system by doling out her favorite fruit treats as a means of reinforcement, she quickly caught on. The paintings and T-shirts were auctioned off at the Rescue Center.
Word quickly spread about Lucky’s paintings. The New York based Wildlife Alliance, which supports the center, raised more than $1,100 by auctioning just two of her paintings. As far as anybody knows, this is a record for original works by an elephant.
It was just this past month that Lucky showed the first signs of recovery: Flapping her ears, showering herself and feasting on the grass.
Thanks to Lucky’s handlers clever auction idea and the funds raised from sales, Lucky is on her way to a full recovery.
As for Lucky’s paintings, she is fast becoming a prominent pachyderm painter.