When firefighters rescued an elephant that had been stranded on its back, they faced a huge challenge.
After getting sick in her stomach, Umna, an African elephant, passed out at Howletts Wildlife Park near Canterbury, Kent.
Because colic is a life-threatening illness for elephants, park staff have gone to tremendous efforts to get Umna up and moving once more.
Umna needed help from local groups to get back on her feet after she fell at Howletts Wild Animal Park.
They attempted to teleport the 13-year-old by tying ropes around her waist and lifting her up, but the two-tonne beast was too large.
After a second failed attempt with the forklift, employees contacted Kent Fire and Rescue, who specialize in animal sanctuary and high-lifting equipment.
At 9.30 a.m., highly trained Faversham firefighters, who are frequently called to rescue animals, were despatched to the site.
Umna has colic, so the zookeepers asked the firefighters in the area to help keep her active.
Later, they were joined by members of the Whitstable staff and members of the urban search and recovery squad.
“Our squad is used to saving cattle and horses,” said Faversham watch manager Ian West, who attended the game.
So, based on our expertise, we explained to the park rangers how we intended to continue with the rescue.
Help: Firefighters attempted to raise the 13-year-old by tying ropes around her torso, but the two-tonne beast proved extremely heavy, so a forklift truck was used on a second try.
‘They shared their understanding of the elephant, and together we devised a strategy to help the elephant get up.’
“We massaged Umna’s front half of her body before lifting her legs into a begging stance with the Tirfor winch.”
Umna is pictured as a young elephant with her mother, Tamara, in 1997.
‘As soon as she could finally regulate her weight, we stopped moving her and she was able to walk properly.’
‘We were terrified, so we attempted to save Umna and were pleased with the outcome.’ Let’s hope, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but it will undoubtedly remain etched in my mind for the rest of my life.’
Neil Spooner, Howletts’ animal director, said that animal transport expert Roy Smith also helped them because he had to be there for a meeting about moving elephants between parks.
‘The combined efforts of Kent Fire & Rescue, the elephant caretakers, and Roy undoubtedly saved this elephant’s life, and we are thankful,’ he said.