Lady’s Steps of Hope Part II: Trimming Her Front Feet




The first tremendous hurdle had been cleared; Lady allowed us to begin working on her back feet. We got some substantial work done over the course of a week, so it was time to take the next step- attempting footwork on her front feet. That is the dangerous end, and although we do everything through protected contact, elephants can still hit, grab, and kick. Her front feet are more sensitive and painful than her back, and it’s more difficult for her to hold them in position for any length of time. Some of you have seen foot care done while an elephant is lying down, but even when they are controlled through forceful dominance (which is generally how that is done), it’s not safe. We have foot bars installed at different levels to accommodate physical limitations, but it is a factor for Lady because it means redistributing her weight to her other front foot. Of course, all of these considerations are kept in mind going into things, and our expectations are relatively nonexistent; safety and comfort are our priorities.

Trying to gauge how Lady would be with her front feet had us using a similar plan as with the back feet. The thought was to start the first day with spraying and scrubbing, then add in a scrape or two, and see her response. Lady did fine with the spraying and cleaning but was more watchful when the knives came close. She did fine but showed she would rather be doing her back feet by lifting those to the bars behind her instead. We did a touch more unimpactful scraping, took some photos, and then did some work on her back feet to compromise and allow for many big successes. The next day we started on the fronts again, and she did better. At one point, Scott took a thick piece of overgrown pad off of her left front, and she decided after that she would give her right front instead. She generally has a preferred foot for the day but will give the other if you ask for it. At this point, we are letting her dictate things somewhat. With the level of cooperation she’s offering, and the condition of her feet, we are ok with being flexible to her desires.



The next morning, she came in for breakfast and immediately put her front foot on one of the bars- success! Besides her being ready and willing to do more, it was utterly adorable, and Lady knows Kat has a hard time resisting her charms. Lady is training her humans well.  😉 Lady still seems to prefer to work on her back feet, but does well with her fronts. In her last session, Scott was able to begin to file down two of her giant nails, and Lady held her position for a decent amount of time during (filing is still her least favorite). We still have a very long way to go with all of her feet, but she is being stellar.

Although improving her feet condition has been a focus of ours since before she came to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, every elephant’s psychological well-being is always a priority. Along with Lady allowing us to begin trimming her feet, there have been some emotional shifts as well. We will talk about those next.

photo: Lady waiting for someone to come and trim her feet ?

April 22, 2020




  1. REPLY
    Heidi says

    Great job Lady – keep training your humans! Tell them to give you lots of treats.

  2. REPLY
    Tracy says

    This is so adorable. I couldn’t love Lady more. She is such a beautiful Ele??. She deserves a big fat watermelon for being such a good girl. ??

  3. REPLY
    carey says

    I’m almost speechless at the fast pace that her trust and willingness has come to. I am so relieved that you have been able to begin doing such essential work . Much respect for all, dear Lady.

  4. REPLY
    Irene says

    Adorable! Lady is so sweet! Lvlvlv! ???♥️?♥️

  5. REPLY
    Bobi StaySee says

    Wonderful photo, ready and waiting. What a lady, that Lady. Like a switch, a light came on. The infinite power of respect in freedom. Thank you, so heart-warming all the smiles bring.

  6. REPLY
    Julia Mercedes Eden says

    The most adorable ?, heartwarming account of Rockstar Lady and her feet ! Had me in tears – happy tears at just how totally loveable ? she’s become . I’ll fight you over her love ability Kat ! It’s outstanding of her that she’s doing front feet and back and I just loved how she proffered up her favoured back feet as a form of ‘compromise’ instead ! God bless you Lady. You’ve truly come into your own at GSE, Brazil. Huge trumpet and a rumble from me to you Lady ?❤️

  7. REPLY
    Rand says

    She is a very very intelligent soul what you are going thru with is a form of acceptance. She knows the deal. You’re going to have a lot of fun and rewarding experiences with her. I’m jealous ?

  8. REPLY
    Lila says

    I LOVE her!!!!!

  9. REPLY
    Barb says

    Well, that photo of Lady presenting her front foot almost made me cry. Tears of happiness of course! Bravo to all! Dream come true!

  10. REPLY
    Jean says

    I am so grateful there are loving compassionate people like you in this world. Your patience and loving care of the girls is inspiring.
    Lady looks 100 times better than when she first arrived! Your care of her is so noticeable along with her emotional healing. Thank you for all you do. Wishing the girls many happy years at your wonderful sanctuary

  11. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    You are such wonderful people. You should have charge of all the elephants in the world. I do know it is asking for rather a lot. 🙂

  12. REPLY
    Sue says

    Thanks to all of you for making my day! Lady is such a character and I love her! Can’t wait for the next post, as usual!! Thank you for the amazing photo too! ❤️?❤️

  13. REPLY
    Julie says

    Awesome news! Is it just me, or does Lady look healthier all over?

  14. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    So happy to hear she is making progress presenting her feet. I admire your patience and understanding with our Lady. Thank you so very much.?♥️?

  15. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    This photo of Lady is a delight to behold! I have to say it….ADORABLE angel! You can feel proud of what you have achieved, Kat and Scott. Truly remarkable.
    This is a stunning photo and Lady also looks in much better condition since coming to ESB. Shows what sanctuary can do!!!! Well done everyone and thank you all so much!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  16. REPLY
    Patricia says

    That is the dearest picture. I love you, Lady!

  17. REPLY
    Muriel Servaege says

    I am grateful to the compassionate people who devote their time, energy, love to help her tirelessly with such positive results. Lady has come to totally trust her humans.

  18. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Had to stop what I was planning to do to read this. Such great news. With a tender heart for how well Lady is progressing, I then read the comments planning on agreeing with one of them so I could quickly move on to the errands at hand, but alas I couldn’t choose only one as they all had words that matched my heart. Made me smile – there’s a lot of good people in this world. A huge congratulations to both the staff and Lady herself. Bravo!!

  19. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    Just first seeing the picture of Lady with her front foot up made me happier than I can say…………but reading to the end of the post and knowing Lady did it all on her own made my day. What a great Lady!!

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