We’ve been expanding our caregiver team in preparation for the arrival of our new elephant residents. One of our newer caregivers, Kairo, is starting to shadow trained caregivers as they interact with the elephants.
Even though Kairo has been here for several months, he is just beginning to work directly with the elephants. Before a new caregiver ever approaches an elephant, we have them observe from a distance. Each elephant is individual, so it’s essential they understand what is typical for each elephant. For example, while Mara’s pickiness is normal, if we saw Maia exhibit the same selective behavior toward food, it would be cause for alarm.
After explaining this approach to Kairo, he joined Scott for a dinner feed for the first time. As Maia approached from a distance, Kairo asked if her belly was normal. Perplexed, Scott asked for clarification. Kairo replied, “Is it normal how it is sticking out on the sides?” (LAUGHING EMOJIS).
Like humans (and most animals), each elephant holds her weight differently and has a different body shape. Both Rana and Maia are chunky right now, but Rana is very tall and her weight spreads out nicely. Maia is much more compact and her belly is more pointy. Since Maia so rarely goes to the barn, Kairo hadn’t seen her enough to know her body shape is, well, pointy.
Photo of Maia, slightly pointy in the belly, but still perfect in every way