Bundling up against the cold is hard when you’re a 6,000-pound elephant. But thanks to some generous knitters in Mathura, India, a group of rescued elephants have giant handmade sweaters to help them stay warm during the chilly winter. When worn with their bright red leg coverings, their new outfits look like cozy pajamas for pachyderms!
The huge sweaters were made for elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center. It takes care of 20 blind, lame, or injured elephants. They were rescued from abuse and exploitation (unfair treatment). Some lived in circuses, were illegal trafficked (bought and sold), or were otherwise neglected. In India, elephants are sometimes kept in crowded in cities and used in street performances or for begging. This causes physical and emotional harm to the wild animals. Wildlife SOS provides food, care, and veterinary attention to the healing animals.
Because most of the elephants housed at the center are recovering from injuries or are elderly, they are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures. “It is important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold during this extreme winter,” explains Kartick Satyanarayan, the co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS. “They are weak and vulnerable, having suffered so much abuse making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia [lung infection]. The cold also aggravates their arthritis which is a common issue that our rescued elephants have to deal with.” Arthritis is a painful illness marked by swelling and stiffness in the body’s joints.
A TALL ORDER
At first, Wildlife SOS made giant jackets out of tarp and flannel for the elephants to wear. Then they asked people in nearby villages to help out by making colorful knitted sweaters. Crafting the sweaters is a big undertaking. Each one takes about four weeks to create, with volunteers working together on the massive garments. Wildlife SOS hopes to rescue 50 more elephants this year—which means there could be a lot more knitting to do!