Klaserie River Sands

Relief for an elephant’s painful penis problem


Wildlife vets in Kariba, Zimbabwe have had to treat an elephant with a large and very personal problem: a swollen penis.

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

“Willy”, as conservationists in the resort town have affectionately named him, was spotted with a “massive” swelling in his genital area around a week before vets were able to dart him on 13 October 2015.

“It was very noticeable when we first saw him,” Debbie Ottman of the Kariba Animal Welfare Trust (KAWFT) said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Elephants’ testicles are invisible because they are located under two inches of skin within their bodies. But this elephant, “looked like he had [a scrotum] because he was so swollen,” she said. “I’ve never seen this before.”

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

Vets from the AWARE Trust in Harare came to help treat the animal.

As if he was asking for help, Willy hung around some buildings in Kariba for two weeks, meaning that he was easily located on the day of the procedure.

“I honestly believe elephants talk to each other,” Ottman said. “It was as if he’d been told: ‘Go there, there are people who will help you’.”

Once he was darted, Willy was found to be suffering from a leakage of fluid in the tissues around his penis, possibly due to a viral infection, according to AWARE.

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

He was treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs and there are some fears his heart may have been affected.

KAWFT posted pictures of the procedure, showing the elephant being sprayed with water while under anaesthetic.

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

© Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust

Touchingly, “four or five” elephants hung around the area while Willy was under anaesthetic, Ottman said. Rangers kept a watchful eye on them but they did not disturb the procedure.

As soon as he woke up, Willy charged off towards the waiting group. “One of them broke rank and came towards him as if he was saying: ‘Well, are you OK?'” Ottman said.

News Desk

A collection of current affairs articles and press releases from third party sources.

  • Else Jean Jensen

    Gotta love these animals ;-). And thx to the vets.

  • George Maina

    Awesome work guys…keep us posted on Willy’s development.

  • ad b.

    keeps us posted on this guy’s well being. and thanks for lookin’ out!

  • Lisa LeBlanc

    What an incredible experience for all Involved!

  • Kimberly Fuller

    Wow that was great . Please keep our animals safe.

  • Rob Simmerle

    Thank you, this is great 🙂

  • Annie Worthington

    That’s awesome. Great job in helping the Elephant. Poor guyhad to be in alot of pain. Glad the Ellie went to the right people 4 help. Love how his buddies were waiting for him

Jacis Lodges
Black Rhino
Africa Geographic