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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just don't pull my trunk! Brit who works as the world's first osteopath for ELEPHANTS

By Daily Mail Reporter

Heave! Mr Nevin grips Pepsi's tail. He claims that by straightening out the tail he can cause all the muscles, from the tail up to the spine, to relax

A ground-breaking British specialist packed his trunk and trekked through the sweltering jungle for his biggest ever job - osteopathy for elephants.

Pioneering Tony Nevin, 47, the world's only wildlife osteopath, travelled all the way to Thailand to treat the two-tonne, floppy-eared animals.

He used his healing hands to help bring comfort to dozens of the creatures at an elephant sanctuary, many of whom had suffered in the now banned teak industry.

And despite the suffocating 35 degree heat, he produced dramatic results.

Stunned sanctuary chiefs are now planning to get him to return after requests from students as far away as Australia to come and study his work.

Mr Nevin, a father-of-two from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: 'It was a privilege to be able to work so closely with the elephants.

'Lifting a elephant's leg and rotating it over and over in order to free the biomechanics is hard work in those sort of temperatures.

'Add to that the humidity and you can't actually drink enough to compensate for water loss.

'I get sceptics until they see the work and results - there's no doubt that the elephants benefited.'

Mr Nevin, who lives with his wife Melissa, son Richard, 14, and daughter Maddie, eight, trekked to the heart of the Thai jungle, on the Burmese border, last month.

Healing hands: Tony Nevin, the world's only wildlife osteopath, in Thailand treating Dah, one of the female elephants at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation sanctuary

The osteopath - who treats humans and animals in Britain - visited the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation to help its 30 elephants.

His treatment includes gently rocking the elephant's head, neck and body to relieve asymmetrical muscle stresses and soft tissue massage.

One of the wild animals, called Dah, reduced him to tears as he gradually coaxed her into health.

The elephant had trouble moving, but was transformed by Tony's healing technique.

He also helped heal a bull-elephant called Pepsi, which had suffered deep wounds in a fight with another animal.

Mr Nevin said: 'I don't think the mahouts, who care for the elephants, could believe what I wanted to do. They called me "baa" - which means "crazy" - but they saw the results and then wanted to learn how to carry on the work.

'Pepsi, a 12-year-old bull elephant suffered deep wounds in a fight with another bull and, when we arrived, couldn't bend his leg.

'The lymphatic system had become disrupted, the muscles tight and the joints stiff and inflexible.

'By the time I left he was bending the elbow, walking freer and was more comfortable - but the funniest thing was how much he loved the treatment.'

Gently does it: Mr Nevin gently taps his foot against Pepsi, a bull elephant injured in a fight with another male. This creates a lymphatic pump action, to soothe the leg muscles

Osteopathy involves physically lifting limbs to treat biomechanics and adjusting all the systems of the body - including the nervous, muscular and skeletal.

The practise is often used on domestic animals, but Tony treats everything from rodents to rhino and all on a voluntary basis.

The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation is about an hour's drive north from Chiang Rai, on the Burmese border, in Thailand.

The charitable organisation rehomes both elephants and their mahout families who live side by side in a specially constructed, traditional camp.

John Roberts, foundation director, admitted he was sceptical when Tony contacted him about his osteopathy work - but was stunned by the results.

'My initial thought was, "Well I'm sure it won't harm the elephants and you never know it might help," so I was willing to give it a go,' he said.

'No one in four thousand years of looking after elephants has ever done anything like this.

'Tony is welcome back anytime and we are hoping he'll return by November as we've got vet students travelling from, not only Chiang Mai University in the south but as far as Australia to study his work.'

When Tony isn't treating exotic wild animals he is back in Cheltenham caring for domestic animals and horses.

His treatment of the Asian elephants was filmed for a new documentary series called Animal Mechanics.



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