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After years of dental pain, Karachi’s Madhubala elephant has found relief.

Madhubala, a 16-year-old elephant in Pakistan who had been suffering from dental infection and pain caused by a broken tusk for years, received relief on Wednesday after undergoing treatment while under unique standing sedation.

Madhubala is one of four African elephants being treated in Karachi by an eight-member team from the global animal welfare organisation Four Paws, which relocated Kaavan, the world’s loneliest elephant, to Cambodia from Islamabad in 2020.

Their visit follows an order issued by the Sindh High Court (SHC) in Karachi last year for Four Paws to assess the animals’ health after local animal rights activists raised concerns about their well-being in court.

Madhubala, named after a famous Indian actress, had her eyes taped shut and her legs tied to side-grills to support her during sedation and subsequent treatment at the Karachi Zoo.

Drills and other heavy surgical tools were used by the veterinarians to extract the infected tusk, which came out in bits and pieces.”Because of the long-term inflammation, the tissue is so fragile and thin that it cannot be extracted all at once; it is breakable,” Dr Marina Ivanova explained as she showed Reuters reporters the extracted tusk.

According to an endoscopy performed prior to the procedure, the full tusk inside measured 31 centimetres (12.2 inches).”It is now critical for us to focus on postsurgical treatment; removing the tusk would open a large wound, which requires daily cleaning,” she added.

Madhubala did not put up much of a fight during the five- to six-hour procedure because she was sedated.”Today, we are excited to begin the first unique procedure at the Zoo in standing position rather than sleeping or complete anaesthesia as it could be risky for the elephant and potentially fatal, which we do not want,” team leader Dr. Aamir Khalil said.

The other elephants were in much better condition since their foot treatment began two months ago, according to Khalil, who added that the group still had work to do to improve the animals’ welfare.