Obese, Mistreated Elephant Enjoying New Home at Indian Sanctuary After Grueling, 11-Hour Moving Process (PHOTOS/VIDEO)

By  Sep 20, 2013 11:00 AM EDT
Laxmi the ElephantLaxmi the ElephantLaxmi the Elephant
Laxmi enjoys her new home at her elephant sanctuary.

Laxmi (alternatively spelled Lakshmi), an 18-year old elephant suffering from obesity and a variety of ailments due to mistreatment, is now adjusting well to her new home at an elephant sanctuary in northern India after a grueling, 11-hour long moving process, the Hufftington Post reports.

Her previous owners used her for begging and kept her in poor conditions in Mumbai and Thane, according to the Mumbai Mirror, feeding her a diet of oily foods and artificial sweets. Her 58-year old companion, Bilji, died in pain from complications due to obesity and malnutrition on June 30, prompting officials to cancel the ownership of the mistreated elephants and give custody of Laxmi to the forest department.

"Bijli suffered because of a poor diet, which made her obese," Dr. Yaduraj of Wildlife SOS, one of the country's largest animal rescue and conservation organizations, told the Mumbai Mirror. "Being overworked ruined her joints to the extent that she could barely stand. She died in agony. Laxmi is also at risk, but we can rehabilitate her at our facility, Elephant Haven."

An elephant expert who examined Laxmi discovered that she was not only obese, but suffered from severe joint pain, skin diseases and acute arthritis.

Thus began the grueling, 11-hour moving operation to transport Laxmi to her new home at the Elephant Rescue and Intensive Care Centre at the Wildlife SOS sanctuary in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Forest Department of Maharashtra staff, in cooperation with police and Wildlife SOS, used cranes and 20 strong rescue workers to lift the massive elephant into her moving truck. Before the long journey, a Wildlife SOS vet gave Laxmi a mild sedative to help calm her down for the trip.

Laxmi is now settling in well at her new home, enjoying her private pool at the sanctuary and eating a variety of fruits, especially her favorite, apples! The sanctuary calls her a "playful pachyderm" who is already making good friends with other elephants, though she is not too fond of them eyeing her beloved food, which can create some conflict.

"Lakshmi is a classic example of captive elephants being neglected and mismanaged due to ignorance and greed of the owners," Wildlife SOS co-founder, Geeta Seshamani, said in a press release. "Wildlife SOS is working with the state governments and Govt. of India to bring about awareness and change in the welfare of these captive elephants."

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