When they’re drinking, most elephants tend to like clean, fresh water. That’s why we clean and fill our water troughs often and why there are stainless steel self-filling water dispensers in the habitat. Sometimes, when elephants take their first drink of water, they pull water up into their noses and release the water without drinking; by doing so, they clean their trunks, ensuring their next sip is mostly dirt free.
Guillermina seems to want a pristine drink and she wants it without a lot of work or waiting. When drinking from the metal water dispenser, instead of just sucking the water up repeatedly to get rid of all of the water already in there, she puts her trunk into the dispenser and blows big bubbles to get all of the water out at once. The water then goes absolutely everywhere – but now the dispenser is completely empty and fills itself with untouched water. While she’s the only elephant we’ve seen use this technique, we have known a couple who use the ‘one trunkful at a time’ emptying technique. It’s always interesting to see how quickly elephants from very different backgrounds develop a preference for the finer things in life once they realize what is available to them at sanctuary.
Photo of Guillermina