A British expert has packed his trunk and hiked through the rainforest to do his biggest job ever – osteopathy for elephants.
Pioneer Tony Nevin, 47, the world’s only wildlife osteopath, traveled all the way to Thailand to treat two-ton floppy-eared animals.
He has used his healing hands to help bring comfort to dozens of creatures at the elephant sanctuary, many of whom had suffered in the now-banned teak industry.
And despite the sweltering 35-degree heat, he produced impressive results.
Stunned reserve chiefs are now planning to bring him back after students from as far away as Australia are requested to come and research his work.
Mr. Nevin, a father of two from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: ‘It has been a privilege to work so closely with elephants.
‘Lifting an elephant’s leg and swinging it back and forth to release biomechanics is hard work in such heat conditions.
Add to that moisture, and you really can’t drink enough to make up for the water loss.
‘I get skeptics until they see the work and the results – there’s no doubt that the elephants benefited.’
Mr. Nevin, who lives with his wife Melissa, son Richard, 14, and daughter Maddie, eight, walked to the heart of Thailand’s jungle, on the border with Burma, last month.
The osteopath – who treats people and animals in the UK – visited the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation to help 30 of its elephants.
His treatments include gentle shaking of the elephant’s head, neck, and trunk to relieve asymmetric muscle tension and soft tissue massage.
One of the wild animals, called Dah, brought him to tears as he slowly coaxed her to get better.
The elephant had difficulty moving but was transformed by Tony’s healing techniques.
He also helped heal a bull elephant named Pepsi, who was deep wo.un.ded in a fight with another animal.
Mr. Nevin said: ‘I don’t think elephant caretakers could believe what I wanted to do. They called me “baa” – which means “crazy” – but they saw the results and then wanted to learn how to keep working.
‘Pepsi, a 12-year-old baby elephant, suffered a deep w.ou.nd during a fight with another bull and when we arrived, he couldn’t bend his leg.
‘The lymphatic system has been disrupted, the muscles are tight, and the joints are stiff and inflexible.
‘By the time I left, he had already bent his elbows, walked more freely, and was more comfortable – but the funniest thing was how much he loved the treatment. ”
Chiropractic involves physically lifting a limb to treat biomechanics and correcting all of the body’s systems – including the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems.
This method is usually used on domestic animals, but Tony handles everything from rodents to rhinos and it’s all on a voluntary basis.
In Thailand, the Golden TriangleAsian Elephant Foundation is about an hour’s drive north of Chiang Rai, on the Burmese border.
The charity rebuilt both the elephants and their mahout families, who lived side by side in a specially built traditional camp.
John Roberts, the organization’s director, admitted he was skeptical when Tony contacted him about his chiropractic work – but was stunned by the results.
‘My initial thought was, ‘Well, I’m sure it won’t harm the elephants, and you never know how it might help, so I’m willing to give it a try,” he said.
‘No one in four thousand years of caring for elephants has ever done something like this.
‘Tony is welcome back any time, and we hope he’ll return as we have vet students traveling from not only Chiang Mai University to the south but also to Australia to research his work. ”
When Tony wasn’t treating exotic wild animals, he returned to Cheltenham to care for livestock and horses.
His treatment of Asian elephants was filmed for a new documentary called Animal Mechanics.