Pegleg Pachyderm Learns to Walk With Prosthesis

Elephant was injured in a poacher's trap

By Greg Wilson
|  Friday, Nov 4, 2011  |  Updated 2:37 PM EDT
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Pegleg Pachyderm Learns to Walk With Prosthesis

Ian Williams/NBC News

A baby elephant gets a new leg: Conservationists didn't think that Chhouk would survive after having a foot ripped apart by a trap in Cambodia.

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An elephant that lost a front foot in a poacher's trap has learned to walk again with the aid of a prosthetic leg.

Chhouk, a 5-year-old bull, was found in a Cambodian jungle four years ago, near death and with his front left leg mangled.

"I really thought he would never make it," Nick Marx, director of Wildlife Rescue and Care at the Wildlife Alliance, told NBC News. "He was seriously injured. He was extremely young, emaciated and very, very sick."

Chhouk was taken to the Cambodian government's Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, outside Phnom Penh, and nursed back to health. But he had lost as much as 8 inches of his foot.

Marx got the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, which had vast experience building prosthetics because of the nation's many landmines, to build one for Chhouk.

"It's changed his life," says Marx. "From being a tired little chap who slept a lot when he went on his walks, he's now lively and energetic. He never stops.”

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