After one of Lady’s recent wanderings in Yard 5, she came down for breakfast and we noticed she had a little poke in her eye. This isn’t uncommon, since the elephants walk through trees and bushes and all sorts of brush in the habitat. Caregivers almost immediately notice this type of injury, because the elephant’s eye tears up pretty significantly. A small wound like this tends to be easy to treat and generally doesn’t affect most elephants’ daily activities.
Upon examination, you can see exactly where an eye has been poked. There is a little indention, and the eye gets cloudy around where the hole is. That cloudiness is essentially the eye working to heal itself. But if the cloudiness is on the pupil, it can impact what the elephant is able to see – and this particular scratch happened to be right in the center of Lady’s pupil.
Things that might seem like a small inconvenience to some elephants may be a little more significant to an elephant like Lady. Because she is sometimes a bit on the insecure side, Lady can become more tentative when she has any sort of impairment of her vision. During her foot soak that afternoon, she appeared slightly less settled and a bit more watchful. If she heard a noise, she would need to turn her whole head to see what was happening, so she was just not quite as at ease as she might normally be.
Lady’s eye will probably heal in about 3-4 days, at least to the point where she won’t have a cloudy area on her pupil. We will continue to monitor and medicate her for about a week after that, just to make sure that everything heals as expected.
Even though Lady has been showing more confidence and readiness to take on larger challenges lately, she still has deep-rooted insecurities that manifest in certain moments. This particular injury has an easy fix but even something so small can impact how she relates to the larger world. It’s just another reminder that, even when an elephant seems healthy and present, there may still be old feelings of insecurity that can be tapped into at a moment’s notice. Just another small step along the larger pathway to healing…