These Jumbo Jackets were provided for elephants at Wildlife SOS sanctuaries, an animal rescue organization that helps rehabilitate disabled and old elephants.
Elephants are big, strong animals that are just as intelligent and gentle. They are often taken into exploitative activities such as performing at circuses, tourist activities where they are used for giving rides, and other entertainment activities which leads to injury and deterioration in their health. In India, many of these elephants are rescued and rehabilitated by animal welfare groups. One such welfare group that rescues elephants exploited in the abusive tourism and “begging elephant” industries is Wildlife SOS. The organization plays a huge role in the conservation of Asian elephants especially those in India, which is critical to the survival of the entire species.
The northern regions of India are prone to extremely cold climatic conditions. These cold waves are not just challenging for humans but for animals alike. Especially the elephants who are weakened after years of surviving in unnatural conditions. Most elephants rescued by Wildlife SOS are disabled or aged elephants who could use an extra layer of warmth during the winter season. So villagers from the surrounding area in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh decided to knit super large sweaters for the elephants rescued. These giant sweaters are being referred to as Jumbo Jackets, as per PEOPLE. They look like really colorful jammies for the elephants.
It is no easy task to knit a sweater for a fully grown elephant. But the villagers have been taking it on in their stride and were captured knitting away with big smiles on their faces. “It is important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold during this extreme winter, as they are weak and vulnerable having suffered so much abuse making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia. The cold also aggravates their arthritis which is a common issue that our rescued elephants have to deal with,” Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS said.
According to The Dodo, the villagers were able to knit the colorful jackets for three of the 23 rescued at the time. Suzy, Phoolkali, and Laxmi were given the jackets and were fashionably prepared for the cold winter. As for the remaining elephants, they were equipped with a less glamourous alternative but were ensured warmth for the winter. Geeta Seshamani, Secretary and co-founder of Wildlife SOS told The Times of India, “The rescued elephants under rehabilitation at Wildlife SOS have been rescued from shocking circumstances. We aim to provide them with a safe habitat where they can live like elephants.”
The Asian elephant is an endangered species with fewer than 22,000 in the wild. Their population has been dwindling because of loss of habitat, ivory poaching, developmental projects that go through elephant corridors, and the illegal trafficking of the younger elephants. Wildlife SOS states, "It is important to note that most captive elephants in India are owned illegally, and strict enforcement of laws is needed to end illegal trafficking of elephants. Our Wildlife SOS sanctuaries allow laws to be enforced as they give authorities a home for these seized and rescued elephants."
The organization works closely with the Forest Department and other agencies to help enforce wildlife protection, anti-poaching, and anti-trafficking laws. Currently, there are 30 elephants in their care. They were also the first in India to introduce an elephant hospital especially equipped to care for elephants. The elephants could receive special treatment for chronic injuries as well as emergency care. Wildlife SOS also has a dedicated elephant ambulance, rescue teams, and a network of informants and undercover staff. The organization also works for the rescue and conservation of bears, leopards, reptiles, and other vulnerable animals. You can donate to the organization here.