If there’s anything we know for sure, it’s that working with elephants is a constant journey of learning: not only learning aspects of animals as individuals, but educating ourselves about the species as a whole in order to provide them with the best care possible. A big part of sanctuary, and our overall mission, is to pass that education and knowledge onto others. This year, we continued to use our weekly EleFACT Friday posts to share anatomical, physiological, and sometimes just fascinating information with you, hoping to expand your elephant expertise.
We shared about protected contact and its importance to our sanctuary, allowing us to honor the elephants and their physical space while ensuring safety for both humans and sanctuary residents alike. With the change of the seasons, we talked about the climate of the sanctuary and how elephants keep themselves appropriately cooled (or warmed) when temperatures vary by thermoregulating their large bodies.
We looked at larger-scaled studies, like the project based out of Namibia that tracked a herd of elephants that seemed to predict the weather and move with the rain. We spent several weeks examining the elephant trunk in all of its glory – from the nerves and neurons that compose the trunk itself, to the muscles in the face that power the trunk as a tool; there seems to be a never ending wealth of information about how anatomically amazing the trunk really is.
Of course, we talked about food: from sharing about the preferences of the sanctuary residents when it comes to tasty treats, to discussing more about how we use diets as a tool to monitor physical and emotional wellness, we always love being able to provide the girls with healthy diets and share the stories of their mealtimes with our supporters.
Perhaps the most important topic that we cover in our weekly EleFACT posts is the emotional wellness of the elephants. With the arrival of Pocha and Guilelrmina to sanctuary this year, we observed two elephants undergo some significant emotional changes and did our best to keep you informed along the way. With the unexpected passing of Pocha a few months later, we’ve been able to further witness the complex emotional processes that Guillermina is working through. We discussed the neurological changes that affect elephants’ emotional well-being in captivity, a process that we attempt to “reverse” by bringing them to sanctuary. We hope that by sharing the stories of emotional grief and healing, others can learn about the importance of sanctuary in the role of sustaining the species and bringing more elephants out of captivity and into a safe space.
To read all of or EleFACT posts from this year, visit the link below. Thank you to everyone who has kept up and followed along throughout 2022!
Photo of Mara grazing in the habitat
P.S.: For those of you who have been following along with our End of Year campaign, we have reached our first goal to funding approximately one year of care for Guillermina! That unlocks a special video revealing the next elephant we’re focusing on: Rana
Watch here: https://youtu.be/KLfMZlyQqjk