Singapore elephants get boots to relieve jumbo pain

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Sexy Manolos or Jimmy Choos may top the wishlist of many women this Christmas, but huge waterproof boots were the ideal festive gift for two jumbo females at Singapore’s zoo.

Vets on Wednesday fitted Asian elephants Tun and Jamilah with specially-made protective boots made from a durable, breathable fabric in a bid to relieve their chronic foot lesions.

Tun, 20 years old, has one front leg longer than the other. Her problems started when a male elephant in the same exhibit mounted her and caused her to buckle, the zoo said.

“The best solution we could think of was some type of protective boot that was durable enough for elephant wear-and-tear and possibly also waterproof,” said vet Sonja Luz.

The zoo had previously used acupuncture and hot compresses to help with the pain before trying the huge boots on for size.

Making sure the elephants keep the footwear on, however, is a challenge, as the smart mammals quickly learned to undo zips during trial fittings.

“A foot of an elephant is very unlike that of a human’s -- they weren’t designed with shoes in mind,” said Raymond Lee, footwear specialist at GORE-TEX, the firm that designed the booties.

Reporting by Melanie Lee, editing by Neil Chatterjee and Miral Fahmy