Thursday, December 7, 2006


Part of the fun I get to have here at the library is dealing with the boxes of freshly acquired journals for our new programs, one of which is for veterinary technicians. Idly flipping though a relatively recent issue of Veterinary Medicine, I chanced upon this article about castrating elephants. Yep, castrating elephants. Not something that comes often comes up in the daily itinerary of your average vet, but it's always good to be prepared.

You wouldn't think that there would be much call for this sort of thing, as elephants are prized and endangered, but in some game preserves they are - or were at the time this article took place - overpopulated and running amok. Apparently this was in the early days of elephant castration, where techniques were still being perfected and breakthroughs had yet to be made. And this was made all the more difficult by the fact that an elephant's testicles are inside the abdomen.

The author called a leading authority in elephant castrationology, the only man to-date who had accomplished the task and survived. I mean had the elephant survive.
...he readily agreed to help. He said, enthusiastically, that he had created a new instrument for the task - a three-and-a-half-foot-long écraseur that could remove testicles from deep in the belly of a full-grown elephant - and he was eager to try it out.
After all, if you created a 3.5 foot long elephant castration tool, wouldn't you want to take that bad boy for a spin right away?

So the doctor sterilized his new instrument, wrapped it up, and went to the airport to get on a plane to fly to the operation. Unfortunately, he was challenged by security, who - oddly enough - wanted to know what this four foot long wrapped metal stick was that he wanted to bring on the airplane as part of his carry on luggage:
Dr. Fowler, who was dressed in a field jacket, blue jeans, and work boots, said, "It's for castrating elephants. I'm on my way to Los Angeles to castrate an elephant."

The security officer reacted to this in a completely unreasonable manner...
Gee, I wonder why. I wonder if the elephant also reacted in a completely unreasonable manner.

But all was well, the doctor made it to the operation and the elephant survived, with a severe case of the munchies:
I was relieved to see the elephant roll onto its sternum, arise, and walk over to a pile of hay and start to eat.

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