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August 16, 2009

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New leg for mine blast elephant

Motola, a 48-year-old female elephant who stepped on a land mine 10 years ago and endured painful operations, was fitted yesterday in Thailand for a permanent artificial leg.

Experts were making a cast of her injured left front leg for a plastic prosthetic limb which would be attached later in the day.

"I do hope she will accept the new leg. It would be wonderful to see Motola and Baby Mosha walking together side-by-side," said Soraida Salwala, of Friends of the Asian Elephant.

Mosha, also a land mine victim, became the world's first elephant with an artificial leg, attached in 2007. Soraida said Mosha, now a three-year-old, is faring well and has outgrown three of her prosthetic devices.

Motola was injured in 1999 while working at a logging camp along the Myanmar-Thailand border, a region peppered with land mines. Her mangled foot was amputated, and she hobbled on three feet until fitted with a temporary, canvas shoe-like device two years later.

Motola's initial operation used enough anesthetic to floor 70 people -- a record noted in the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records.

"It has been 10 years now, but in all these long years Motola enjoyed a happy life, walking out of her shelter for a sun bath," Soraida said.


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