The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee engages a diverse team of professional
health care providers to provide a unique
integrative healthcare program for the
elephants residing at the Sanctuary. Integrative
medicine is "practicing medicine in a way
that selectively incorporates elements
of complementary and alternative medicine
into comprehensive treatment plans alongside
solidly orthodox methods of diagnosis and
treatment" (Rees 2001).
The healthcare team at The Elephant Sanctuary supports the American
Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines
for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary
Medicine and the following AVMA statement:
"The foremost objective in veterinary medicine
is patient welfare. Ideally, sound veterinary
medicine is effective, safe, proven, and
holistic in that it considers all aspects
of the animal patient in the context of
Over the next few months we hope to formalize our healthcare program
and develop a written document that explains its many facets.
Susan Mikota DVM
Dr. Steven Scott, DVM
Imagine being the only large animal veterinarian in your county when
you learn that an elephant sanctuary is
moving into town. Dr. Steven Scott had
just such an experience. A graduate of the University of Tennessee
College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Scott admittedly knew nothing
about elephants, but he was willing to learn.
Since 1995, Dr. Scott has provided his
services and has proven to be a sound
medical advisor for our elephants. In addition to the routine medical
procedures of blood work and fecal analysis, Dr. Scott oversees annual
trunk washes required by the USDA, takes x-rays, examines feet, tusks,
teeth and any other body part necessary.
When Dr. Scott was requested to assist with the trunk washes, he
was silent. Once we assured him that the
caregivers would do the actual procedure
of pouring sterile water into the elephant's
trunk and then retrieving it, he looked
quite relieved. Here he examines Bunny's
pad. Her progress has been nothing short
of life saving. When Bunny arrived in 1999
her prognosis was bleak. She had suffered from a debilitating foot
disease for over 20 years, the same disease that kills three out of
every 4 elephants that die in captivity. Fortunately, Bunny was moved
to the Sanctuary which provides an environment
that supported her recovery. In less than
one year Bunny's feet
had healed completely.
Dr. Scott was on hand when Jenny arrived
at the Sanctuary in 1996. Like everyone,
he was concerned with her injured leg.
He participated in Barbara's tooth surgery, a first for all of us,
his portable x-ray machine, he was able to take pictures of Bunny's
jaw to evaluate the condition of an old abscess.
And when he made an emergency visit to the Sanctuary to examine a
strange development on Tarra's bottom,
we were prepared to hear the worst. With
the seriousness of a surgeon, Dr. Scott
examined Tarra's bottom, paused for a moment
and stated, "She
has a hemorrhoid." And,
without the slightest hint of a smile,
he recommended Preparation H. We all broke out
But a very sad occasion brought Dr. Scott
to the Sanctuary on May 19, 2001. No
one close to Barbara, including Dr. Scott,
was spared from the heartbreak when she
passed away. He conducted her necropsy
with sensitivity and reverence, which was greatly appreciated
by all. In memory of Barbara, Dr. Scott
generously waived his necropsy fee in Barbara's memory stating, "You
are doing a good thing out here, a really
Visit Dr. Scott's website.
Co-founder & Director of Veterinary Programs
Elephant Care International
Susan Mikota obtained her DVM from the University of Illinois.
She spent much of her career at the Audubon
Zoo in New Orleans where she was Director of Veterinary Services.
In 2000, she resigned her position as the Director of Veterinary Research
and Animal Health at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered
Species to move to Sumatra to initiate a healthcare and conservation
program for elephants, supported in part by a Guggenheim Fellowship.
She is a member of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group. She just completed
her second book on elephant healthcare (with
co-editor Murray Fowler DVM). She created and maintains
the world's largest elephant bibliographic
database on elephant healthcare and with
Donald C. Plumb, Pharm D. has published the first elephant formulary.