Bath-time happens every day in the elephant barn at both Zoos. During this time the elephants are thoroughly cleaned, it’s kind of like giving the elephants an exfoliating scrub and removes any dead skin cells from their bodies. This is also a great opportunity to maintain and strengthen the close bond and trust between keeper and elephant, as well as check over the elephants thoroughly, incorporating a feet and teeth check.
Usually, following a hose down, the elephants love to cover themselves with dirt or mud, which is what they would do in the wild.
All the elephants have a regular foot care routine which involves them presenting their feet so that the pads can be checked and cleaned and their nails trimmed and filed.
Similar to horses, elephants nails grow continuously. Keepers file the nails to ensure that the edges are raised and weight is not exerted on them while the elephants walk around. By doing this we minimise cracking in their nails.
This routine also assists keepers to build a strong bond and relationship with the elephants.
As social animals the best enrichment for elephants is contact with other elephants. Elephants are highly intelligent animals and enjoy learning and playing with each other as well as new challenges.
Our exhibits are designed to encourage the Elephants’ natural behaviours, with features such as swimming pools, mud wallows and dirt mounds. These features provide the elephants with the opportunity to swim, roll and cover themselves with dirt and mud as well as ensuring they get plenty of activity and exercise.
Play sessions, such as the games and activities we do, all help with balance, coordination, dexterity and problem-solving skills, plus continuing to strengthen the bond between elephant and keeper. Things like pushing tyres, pulling logs, catching, throwing and kicking balls are all fun and just like the baths provide an opportunity to positively interact with all the elephants.
Our elephants also receive a variety of enrichment toys including tyres, plastic barrels, drilled bamboo pieces, boomer balls, bungee apparatus and ropes as well as large tree branches and logs, all of which can be used at different times to exercise and enrich our elephants both physically and mentally.