Elephants live in herds as they are social animals who live in some sort of social hierarchy. I’m no elephant expert so please correct me if I’m wrong. Each herd is kept in a pen separate from the others. With each new elephant rescued, the staff will watch how the elephants interact with each other, seeing which herd will accept the new elephant and change the sleeping arrangements as such.
If I didn’t remember wrongly, this isn’t a mother-child pair. they were both rescued separately but the female elephant has taken the baby elephant under her… flapping ears.
like any baby who doesn’t appreciate being awaken.
Saying hello good morning to one of the volunteers.
Each elephant has a mahout, which means keeper or driver of elephant. If you’ve been to Thailand and seen an elephant, the man accompanying the elephant is his mahout. They train elephants to do an assortment of things, sometimes using items that inflict pain on the elephant if it disobeys or is slow to learn. In this park though, these mahouts are more like caretakers than trainers. they not only take care of the elephants but also play with them. sometimes you can see an elephant taking a friendly swipe at his mahout with a playful trunk. Here, the mahout is taking pains to peel the corn from the cob and feeding it to the baby as its too young to figure out how to eat corn properly.
Elephant dust bathing. this coat of dust acts as a repellent against insects and also provides a thin coat of SPA-40 to keep off the sun rays.
from the main compound they’ve built long wooden walk ways that allow us to move around the area while keeping high away from the elephants. there are 2 stretches of walkways where the elephants know its where the food comes from so when it’s time, the mahouts will let the elephants out and they will wander over to the wooden walkways and wait with inquisitive trunks.
The guide showed us how to feed the elephants. you take a bunch of bananas or an open pumpkin and put it in the snout of his trunk. Never ever put your hand in his mouth. The elephant will lift the food and put it into his own mouth and before you can even say cream of pumpkin soup, his trunk is back again searching for more.
OM NOM NOM NOM!
I took the opportunity to stroke his trunk as it came questing through the wooden beams. it was very dry, hard and had a wrinkled leathery feel to it. it had bits of coarse hair along its skin so it felt a little prickly. it was wonderful to be able to get this close to an elephant. I’d have hugged his trunk but he might get a little alarmed by the thing attached to its nose so I didn’t.
Part 2 of 5