About a year ago, the maintenance team was working on an area of the sanctuary and found some nice looking dirt. (Did you know working with elephants helps you develop an appreciation for dirt? ?). The team used the “scooper” of the backhoe to save it and made a nice pile of soil outside the habitat for the elephants.
It ended up being a large pile, and the dusting piles don’t need topping off very frequently, which means we are still using dirt from this pile. It turns out the elephants really, really like this dirt.
There has always been a bit of a step down from Stall 1 to Yard 1. It’s not a big step – the other elephants (and humans) easily navigate it, but we notice Lady hesitating there. We are very sensitive to her feet and any issues they may cause, so we pulled from the “dirt pile” to make the incline more gradual. Since the backhoe would already need to go into the habitat to do this, Scott decided to top off the other dirt piles in Yards 1 & 2 at the same time. For ease of coordination and safety, we closed Lady in the barn briefly (just after her treatment) while the habitat was open, which gave Lady a front-row seat to the excitement.
Lady watched all “her” dirt coming in with a big cheesy grin. Once Scott completed the project, Lady exited the barn but didn’t make it very far. She spent a good amount of time dusting just outside of the stall and then went and checked out all her other new dirt. She seemed to approve of the minor upgrade.
It’s super cute, and always nice to watch the elephants rejoice in the little things.
Photo of Lady nicely coated in her new dirt (in the form of mud) with Maia in the background.