Once again, we caught Guillermina on our observation camera having a ball in the rain. In this instance, she’s actually stripping bark from one of the trees and eating it – something we don’t recall seeing another captive Asian elephant do. That’s much more akin to African elephant behavior.
At first, it seemed that she was just pushing on the tree or trying to get a little scratch; what she’s actually doing is using her tush to lift up the bark and peel it from the tree. As you know, female Asian elephants don’t have tusks, but some of them have tushes, which are like small tusks that can protrude a few inches from their gum line.
This tree is one that’s particularly popular for snacking among the elephants. Several of the girls enjoy eating the roots of the tree, especially during the dry season. It’s perfectly fine for her to be eating the bark; when browsing in the habitat, elephants eat branches along with grass, vines, and lots of other natural materials.
People often wonder how elephants who have lived in extreme captive situations will adapt to a life at sanctuary. This is a perfect example of the fact that some behaviors are just innate. Guille lived in a space without trees for over 20 years; she’s never seen another elephant do anything like this before – and yet she intrinsically knew that tree bark was appropriate to eat and how she could get it off of the tree. There are some things that are essential to a species that persist despite deprivation that might come with some captive situations. Guille’s understanding comes from a pure place deep inside.
P.S.: Charity Navigator’s most recent ratings have been released and Global Sanctuary for Elephants earned a Four-Star Rating with 100% score! Charity Navigator is the world’s largest nonprofit evaluator that ranks organizations based on Impact & Results, Accountability & Finance, Culture & Community, and Leadership & Adaptability. We recommend that you check out the other charities you support to find out how they rank so you can give with confidence.