Asia

Thai elephant hospital, short of money, at risk of closing

  • FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2009 file photo, elephant keepers assist Motola, a 48-year-old female elephant who lost part of her left front leg after stepping on a land mine 10 years ago, after attaching her with an artificial leg at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang province, northern Thailand. What is believed to be the world's first elephant hospital says it may have to close because of budgetary problems after a decade of declining contributions. The Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, which operates the hospital, said Friday, March 17, 2017, it is facing bankruptcy unless it receives financial assistance from the Thai government. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2009 file photo, elephant keepers assist Motola, a 48-year-old female elephant who lost part of her left front leg after stepping on a land mine 10 years ago, after attaching her with an artificial leg at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang province, northern Thailand. What is believed to be the world's first elephant hospital says it may have to close because of budgetary problems after a decade of declining contributions. The Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, which operates the hospital, said Friday, March 17, 2017, it is facing bankruptcy unless it receives financial assistance from the Thai government. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2009 file photo, elephant keepers help a staff member from Prostheses Foundation, bottom right, to fit an artificial leg for Motola, a 48-year-old female elephant who lost part of her left front leg after stepping on a land mine 10 years ago, at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang province, northern Thailand. What is believed to be the world's first elephant hospital says it may have to close because of budgetary problems after a decade of declining contributions. Soraida Salwala, head of the Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, which operates the hospital, said Friday, March 17, 2017, that the group has barely enough money to continue operating until the end of the year. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2009 file photo, elephant keepers help a staff member from Prostheses Foundation, bottom right, to fit an artificial leg for Motola, a 48-year-old female elephant who lost part of her left front leg after stepping on a land mine 10 years ago, at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang province, northern Thailand. What is believed to be the world's first elephant hospital says it may have to close because of budgetary problems after a decade of declining contributions. Soraida Salwala, head of the Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, which operates the hospital, said Friday, March 17, 2017, that the group has barely enough money to continue operating until the end of the year. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)  (The Associated Press)

What is believed to be the world's first elephant hospital says it may have to close because of budgetary problems after a decade of declining contributions.

The Friends of the Asian Elephant foundation, which operates the hospital in Lampang in Thailand's hilly north, says it is facing bankruptcy unless it receives financial assistance from the Thai government. The hospital has cared for more than 4,600 elephants in 25 years of operation and currently has five animals.

The hospital drew worldwide attention in 2008 when it developed the world's first prosthetic elephant leg. At least 15 of its patients have been land mine victims.

Foundation head Soraida Salwala said Friday that the group has barely enough money to continue operating until the end of the year.