THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is a scientifically proven fact that a calm and composed mind helps humans live longer. It holds true for animals too, proves the life of Chenkalloor Dakshayani, the 85-year-old female elephant owned by the Travancore Devaswom Board.
In her decades-long glorious career, Dakshayani hasn’t ever gone unruly or attacked anyone, testify her keepers. She is probably the oldest surviving elephant in captivity on earth.
According to the Guinness Records, the oldest elephant on earth ever was Lin Wang of Taiwan Zoo that died aged 86 in 2003.
The records available with the TDB say Dakshayani was donated to the Thiruvarattu Kavu at Attingal by the Travancore royal family when she was five or six. The royal family had bought the calf from the Kodanad elephant camp, near Ernakulam. She was shifted to the Chenkalloor Mahadeva Temple in the district around 50 years ago. The animal is quite healthy and still participates in rituals held in connection with the temple festival.
“The certificate issued by the State Forest Department says she was 76 as on July 18, 2007. We do not know the exact age in which she was gifted by the royals,” says Subramanian Namboodiri, TDB’s Chenkalloor sub-group officer.
Dakshayani’s keepers say she is a gentle and lovable beast that always keeps her cool. “Female jumbos are less ferocious than their male counterparts and Dakshayani is a gem among them. She is very obedient and friendly to mahouts and public,” says senior mahout Rajesh. “But if she has a dislike for something, she cannot be subdued. We don’t force her in such cases for it would be a futile effort,” he adds.
Dr T Rajeev, veterinarian looking after Dakshayani for the past six years, said her health was pretty good. “The only ailment was poor vision on her right eye. But through continuous medication it is improving. No special diet is given except for the annual ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy,” he said.
According to Rajeev, Dakshayani has a strong dislike for needles. “She will not allow to administer injections on her. Whenever I visit her, she would look whether I possess a syringe. If a syringe or needle is spotted she would get agitated,” he says.
“Till 2014, she was sent for various festivals in the capital. Now, we have restricted it to the annual festivals at the Chenkalloor temple and nearby Thrivikramangalam Vamanamoorthy temple,” he said. Elephant expert and assistant professor at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Dr Arun Zachariah opined that captive elephants live longer than wild pachyderms. “A female captive elephant with the State Forest Department in Wayanad had lived 80 years. But 85, if true, is surprising,” he said.
For the Guinness Record
Guinness officials tell ‘Express’ that Dakshayani could be considered for the record of oldest living elephant in captivity.
“We do not have a record of oldest elephant living in captivity. We are happy to consider this record if an application is submitted on behalf of the elephant,” Melissa Lee, Public Relations, Guinness Records said in an e-mail communication.