Pretty boy, a gentle giant in Zimbabwe, had been shot in the head. Reports indicated that he had been walking around Mana Pools National Park with a bullet hole on his forehead for weeks.
Word got to AWARE officials who set out to look for this wounded elephant. Usually, when AWARE (Animal and Wildlife Area Research Rehabilitation Trust) officials get word of an injured animal, locating it is the most hectic part. That wasn’t the case with 25-year-old Pretty Boy.
When the AWARE veterinarians got to the vicinity of his reported sighting, Pretty Boy joined the party within the first half-hour. The first thing that was apparent to the veterinarians was the bullet hole on his forehead.
The elephant was extremely calm and showed no signs of aggression when he approached the veterinarians. “He literally emanated serenity,” said Lisa Marabini, the Director AWARE Trust.
She added that she is always cautious when approaching wild elephants, but Pretty Boy had no aggressive vibes whatsoever.
The vets sedated him and took some X-ray images that showed the bullet lodged in the head. This lucky gentle giant sustained a gunshot that was only 5cm shy of being a kill shot.
Upon close inspection, Pretty boy seemed to have survived another gunshot as he had an abscess on his shoulder.
The veterinarians theorized that when he got shot in the head, he might have turned to run, and the second shot caught him on the side. He also appeared to have sustained another previous injury to his spine.
It was difficult to locate the bullet as the head was too big to X-ray from different angles. However, the examination did reveal the deep sitting issues that could be treated. According to Lisa, it is okay to leave the bullet in the body as long as it hasn’t hit any vital organ.
That was the case with Pretty Boy. She explained that bullets are sterile while penetrating the skin as they generate so much heat.
The bullet had fractured the sinuses’ bones. The veterinarians removed several black necrotic fragments of the fractured bone. They thoroughly cleaned up the wound and gave him long-acting parasiticides and antibiotics for the infection.
The vets stayed until the sedatives wore off to make sure he was okay. He did get up and went to lay near a tree for an additional 30 minutes. The vets return the following day for a follow-up check, which he allowed them to do. A week after the incident, Pretty Boy was seen much healthier, gracefully grazing in the national park.
We are grateful that the AWARE team rushed to rescue Pretty boy and end his pain. Today, Pretty Boy is much happier and healthier.
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