The elephants, after having suffered so much abuse, are susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia. The cold also aggravates arthritis, a common issue among rescued elephants.
As the chilly season was approaching, animal lovers in Mathura began knitting something called Jumbo Jackets. Essentially, sweaters for elephants. This was done as part of an innovative initiative by the folks at Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center. According to PEOPLE, the center houses rescued elephants who have undergone prolonged neglect and physical torture committed by their cruel handlers. Most of them were freed from illegal captivity, trafficking, and circuses, and are disabled, blind, or in the process of being healed.
Having suffered enough for no fault of their own, their saviors did not want them to endure discomfort any longer. Thus, women and other volunteers in a village near the Wildlife center began making colorful, pajama-like garments, reports the Independent. "It is important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold during this extreme winter, as they are weak and vulnerable having suffered so much abuse making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia. The cold also aggravates their arthritis which is a common issue that our rescued elephants have to deal with," explained Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, Kartick Satyanarayan, in a statement.
According to Daily Mail, Satyanarayan continued, "We work hard to give these elephants a life of dignity and protection while we also provide the ongoing treatment and care. This winter we are making jumpers to give the jumbos in our care some warmth. They really took to their jumpers! I know in some countries it is a bit of a joke to wear the most outlandish one you can for Christmas. But the elephants care less about fashion and more about being warm." Pictures show female elephants donning carefully embroidered woolen outfits that cover their legs, neck, and back. When the incident took place in 2017, the center housed 20 elephants. In the very same year, they planned to rescue 50 elephants and had plans to expand the sanctuary. Wildlife SOS was established in 1995 by a small group of individuals who were inspired to start a movement to make lasting change in order to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forest, and wildlife wealth. "Today, the organization has evolved to actively work towards protecting Indian wildlife, conserving habitat, studying biodiversity, conducting research, and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities or those communities that depend on wildlife for sustenance," reads the website.
The Center in Mathura is "India’s first and only Elephant Conservation and Care Centre". It was established in 2010 in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department." Their main objective was to "rehabilitate severely abused and exploited captive elephants" and serve as a "living breathing conservation education platform to change public perception to support elephant conservation." Wildlife SOS works "to end the plight of injured and sick elephants that are forced to work in unnatural conditions. Our aim is to reach out and help the elephants that are blind, elderly, wounded, malnourished, and dehydrated or those being used illegally and commercially under deprived conditions." After being rescued from "extreme distress," they are no longer "forced to bear heavy loads, or walk on hot pavements." Now, "these majestic creatures are finally able to spend their days happily, with frequent baths, a nutritious diet, and good veterinary care." The center boasts of having natural vegetation. There are enough open fields around for their daily walks and several trees are available to scratch themselves, thus making it closest to the natural habitat of the elephants. There are water pools as well, so that the elephants have free access to a bath. Or even, simply to play in the water, at will.