EleFact Friday: Healthy Elephant Feet

After sharing an update and photos of Guillermina’s feet earlier this week, as well as providing details on their current condition and the care that she is receiving, we had quite a few supporters request photos of elephant feet that are considered to be healthy. It’s understandable to want to see comparison photos to understand the differences between Guille’s foot care journey and what some of the other sanctuary residents have achieved over time at ESB. For today’s EleFACT, we want to explain a bit more about healthy feet. 

Part of regular foot care involves removing overgrowth of the nails to prevent cracking, splitting, or becoming infected. We make sure that there aren’t any spots that are causing too much pressure on the foot, which can also lead to abscesses and infections. 

In the attached slideshow, you’ll see some photos of what healthy elephant feet look like. A foot in good condition should have grooves, since they act like sneaker treads for traction. A completely smooth foot pad is very dangerous on slick surfaces. And while there should be grooves, they shouldn’t have deep crevices where rocks and other small debris can get stuck, since that is often the source of pad abscesses. There should not be big spaces behind the nails where feces, dirt, and other things can get caught and then cause infections which travel in and upward. We hope that in time, with good, attentive care, and the ability to roam on natural earth, Guille’s feet can reach this level of health.

Please also keep in mind that, like everything else that is different between Asian and African elephants, their foot pads and feet cannot be directly compared. 


  1. REPLY
    Susan Flewelling says

    Are their soles made of material similar to a cow’s?

    Is there a video up of treating their back feet? Can’t imagine how you can safely work on their back feet.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      They aren’t much like a cow, since cows have hooves, which are hard. We don’t generally take video of treatments since that can be distracting for the elephants. But back footwork is generally done in a treatment chute. The elephants learn to rest their back feet on the bars so they can get trimming and other work done.

  2. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    Thank you! This has been very helpful!

  3. REPLY
    Melinda says

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve wondered about those delicate and frequently abused (by humans) elephant feet. God bless you for doing all you can to help these wondrous beings!

  4. REPLY
    Benita says

    Fascinating stuff! Thank you for those pictures! Now I really know what the bottoms of elephant feet look like.

  5. REPLY
    Sheila says

    I’m sure Guillie will feel much better when her feet r in better condition. How is SWEET MZ LADY DOING? HAS GUILLIE AND LADY MET UP CLOSE? I WISH MZ LADY WOULD GROW WARMER TO OTHER LADIES.. ITS BEEN SO LONG!

  6. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    Its great U can look after their feet.😍 Scott.
    They also trust you and I’m sure they realize they have more comfort walking when feet r in great shape. Yes comfort will affect their emotional well being!@ plus. I think the ladies want to have nice human contact as they can get extra yummy fruit👍 treats. Those ladies deserve the best care and you folks do everything u can for ur Beautiful Ladies ❤️

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