30 March 2024, by Emily Proctor

An elephant at Amersfoort Zoo found itself in a struggle recently after getting a 75-centimetre stick stuck up its trunk. Luckily, the zoo’s team of veterinarians were on hand with an ingenious solution – call up some of the brightest minds in the country at TU Delft to help get the stick out!

Zoo emailed TU Delft employees to help remove stick from elephant

Unfortunately for the poor elephant, Yindi, the 75-centimetre long stick caught inside its trunk was quite uncomfortable, and meant that the stiff trunk could no longer be moved to grab and reach objects in the way that elephants usually do. The vets at the zoo were stumped as to how to remove the stick from the three-year-old elephant’s trunk without hurting the animal or risking breaking the stick and making the issue even worse. 

Thankfully, according to the AD, the zoo got in touch with Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam, which recommended contacting the employees of the TU Delft University. The zoo quickly took up this option, sending an email to staff at 10pm with the subject line: ‘Help: stick stuck in elephant’s trunk’. 

TU Delft employees design special tool to quickly help elephant

Amazingly, the team at TU Delft saw the email and got to work on developing a special tool to help Yindi the elephant get the stick removed. “Most pliers have one hinge, so the bottom of the pliers opens when you grab something and it is difficult to grab something in a narrow space. So I started looking for pliers with two hinges, especially for narrow spaces,” development technician Remi van Starkenburg told the AD

Staff from the university then went about welding, cutting and adapting the pliers to suit the zookeepers’ needs. “We removed the handles, made an extension of 20 centimetres and reattached the handles,” explained Van Starkenburg. 

This meant that the vets and zookeepers were finally able to remove the huge stick from Yandi’s trunk. “We were able to lower the stick quite a bit with the pliers from TU Delft. Once the stick was lower, we could reach it with more handy pliers and the stick was removed in no time,” Veterinarian Chrispijn Schilp told the newspaper. The elephant is now safe and well at its home in Amersfoort.

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