Pretty Boy, is one resilient elephant. But after having been shot, and surviving the attack, he knew he needed help.
He walked around with his terrible wounds for several weeks.
Veterinarians from the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation Trust (AWARE), in Zimbabwe, reached Mana Pools National Park after finding out about the injured elephant. They found Pretty Boy right away.
“He made himself available for examination within half an hour, coming right up to their car,” wrote AWARE on Facebook.
“An extremely gentle and relaxed bull, the vets managed to get a good look at what immediately became apparent was a hole going into his forehead,” read the post.
Once they tranquilized him, they took him in for an X-ray, which showed a warped bullet inside of the poor elephant’s head.
“Bullets are usually sterile when they penetrate tissue as they generate so much heat, so if they don’t hit a vital structure they can often be left,” said Dr. Lisa Marabini, the director of AWARE.
That was exactly what happened to Pretty Boy. He had been hit just a few centimeters too high for a “kill shot.” Instead of killing Pretty Boy, the bullet had grazed his skull, which resulted in a fracture in the bones of his sinuses. The head wound was infected. “It was essential to remove the dead pieces of bone so that the body could continue to heal the infection,” said Marabini.
Marabini suspects that whoever shot Pretty Boy must have tried aiming for his heart, but struck his shoulder instead, due to the fact that there was an abscess there too from another bullet.
Marabini said that if it was a professional hunter, they would have used a more suitable bullet. An old scar located near Pretty Boy’s spine also indicates that he was probably shot at in his past.
She said even though humans had done so much to try and hurt him, Pretty Boy was exceptionally gentle toward the people who helped take care of him.
“I never usually feel totally comfortable getting very close to a wild elephant,” she said. “But he literally emanated serenity. There were no aggressive vibes coming from him whatsoever.”
Once his head wound was cleaned out, Pretty Boy was given some long-lasting antibiotics and parasiticides. When he finally woke up, AWARE wrote, “Pretty Boy was happy enough to just take a nap against a tree.”
“The following day he was feeling much happier and very relaxed,” wrote AWARE. “His progress will be monitored by the tour operators in the area and, if necessary, a follow-up treatment will be done.”
“Even though it will take Pretty Boy a while to heal” said Marabini, “at least now he’s got a fighting chance.”
“He came 5 centimeters close to death,” Marabini said. “He was lucky.”
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