Why National Zoo's Resident Elephant Shanthi Is Wearing Stylish Teva Boots

By on

CCSS NAS-3 Word Search
Shanthi with her Teva shoes (Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

If you visit Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC, you may notice on of zoo’s resident elephants, Shanthi, strolling around in stylish Teva boots. While the footwear makes the 9,000-pound pachyderm stand out among her peers, its primary purpose is to provide the 41-year-old relief from the side effects of arthritis, a chronic condition that causes painful inflammation and stiffness of joints.

The musically-inclined elephant (see video), who has been at the zoo since she was a year old, was first diagnosed with the disease in her front wrists ten years ago. As the arthritis has progressed, Shanthi has started to put more of her weight on her front feet. While this helps ease the pressure on her joints, it has led to painful lesions on and around her toenails. Though zoo officials have tried everything from daily pedicures to medicated foot baths, and cold laser therapy, the blisters have been difficult to treat. That’s because the bandages keeping the topical medication in place often come off when the elephant is walking.

Shanthi’s Size 20 shoes (Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

Earlier this year, the zoo’s officials approached the makers of Teva footwear for a pair of shoes to help the distressed animal. Using Smithsonian’s 3-D Digitization Program to measure Shanthi’s foot size, the designers created a stylish custom-made pair and delivered them to the zoo in September. In case you are wondering, the size 20 boots with a 12E width are about as big as a birdbath! While it took some time to get used to, Shanthi now happily strolls around in her Velcro footwear, making it easier for zoo officials to keep the bandages on, and painful debris out.

To reduce the swelling in her joints, Shanthi was recently administered with a new therapy that has proved effective in helping horses suffering from arthritis. Shanthi’s keepers believe the treatment is working given that the elephant has been walking more and even playing in the outdoor swimming pool.

Lucky the Penguin shows off his custom-made Teva sandal (Photo Credit: Santa Barbara Zoo)

This is not the first time Teva has helped animals in need. In 2004, the company created custom shoes for Tina, a 34-year-old elephant at Tennesse’s Elephant Sanctuary, who was suffering from debilitating foot pain. In 2011, Lucky, a Santa Barbara Zoo penguin born with an impairment on his right leg, received a shoe that now helps him waddle, jump, and swim just like his able-bodied friends!

Generate citations in MLA, APA & Chicago formats for this article.

VocabularyPlay Game


Reading Comprehension (8 questions)

  1. Why is Shanthi wearing shoes?
  2. When did Shanthi's disease get diagnosed?

Critical Thinking Challenge

After reading this article, what is one thing you can assume...


Vocabulary in Context

To reduce the swelling in her joints, Shanthi was recently administered with a new therapy that has proved effective in helping horses suffering from arthritis.

In the above sentence, the...

Sign in to use your custom avatar.
  • emmaFriday, February 9, 2018 at 11:04 am
    Yeah me to.I feel realy bad.
    • DASavageSingerWednesday, February 7, 2018 at 11:07 am
      Yeah me too. I feel bad for them
      • J.9 Friday, January 12, 2018 at 12:11 pm
        I feel bad for them because they are dying out\
        • J.9 Friday, January 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm
          Elephants are really smart and CUTE
          • dfrrfvrfkurdvtdFriday, January 12, 2018 at 6:20 am
            omg a elaphant can play the harmonica
            • UnknownFriday, January 5, 2018 at 12:04 pm
              Glad that they are ok
              • UnknownFriday, January 5, 2018 at 12:03 pm
                sooooooo sadddddddd
                • UnknownFriday, January 5, 2018 at 12:02 pm
                  • kylie jennerThursday, January 4, 2018 at 9:26 am
                    That is the best book i ever read
                    • PowerRangersTuesday, June 27, 2017 at 8:58 am
                      The first video is sad.This video just says that they have to wear boots.It's bad for them

                      Recent Comments

                      gurkert singh wrote:

                      very very nice
                      Everything You Need To Know Abou...

                      woo wrote:

                      that wus cool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...
                      150-Million-Year-Old Mystery Din...

                      Cool cat wrote:

                      I liked it.
                      The Reason Guatemala's Volcano E...

                      Our Apps and Plugins