Blog

Mendoza Mail: Gathering Browse (and Some Spring Cleaning)

Branches can be more than a nutritious snack!
Wild elephants will forage for an average of 18 hours a day, eating 200-300 lbs of food (90-136 kg). In a captive environment, elephant diets typically consist of hay, supplemented with fruits and vegetables. Pocha, Guillermina, Tamy, and Kenya’s diets are no exception. Ideally, we provide them with as much vegetation and natural browse (trees, bark, and shrubs) as possible for enrichment and nutrition.

Access to suitable browse is a big obstacle at Ecoparque Mendoza. Trees are everywhere, but not all of them are safe or palatable for the elephants. There is so much to do; just finding the time to search for suitable branches can be challenging. Tools are precious commodities within the park, ours being limited to a machete we guard closely, so it doesn’t mysteriously “walk away.” Branches are often high off the ground and unreachable. Luckily Esteban, elephant caretaker of 23 years, has creatively fashioned hooks out of old construction material he found lying around. We use these to pull branches down to a chopping level. We also don’t want to go around killing trees, so we need to be careful not to cut too much from one tree.
Despite this, it’s worth the extra effort to see how excited the elephants are to receive it. If they don’t devour it immediately, they will throw it around, wear it on their backs, or find something uniquely charming to do.
One day, I heard someone sweeping in the front holding area. I found this strange, since I knew the elephants were in there. Not a good time to clean! I came around the corner to find Pocha was the culprit, using a piece of browse she’d saved! (She’d eaten the rest.) I only caught the end of it on video, but she circled the enclosure, ‘sweeping’ the entire area with her branch. Esteban looks at me and says, “Pocha está limpiando.” (“Pocha is cleaning.”) I’m not sure if cleaning was her goal or intention; perhaps she liked the sound it made. Whatever her reasons, she looks pretty darn cute!

How wonderful will it be when Pocha and Guillermina get to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil and have all the branches, trees, and grass they can dream of?

Comments(19)

  1. REPLY
    Barb says

    A keeper sweeper is Pocha! Wonderful video!

  2. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    OMG, these elephants are going to go berserk – or shut down for awhile, while they process all the NEW- when they arrive at Sanctuary!!!

    • REPLY
      sara says

      We are hoping they will acclimate to sanctuary quickly. But, as always, they decide what’s right for them and we follow their lead.

  3. REPLY
    Sunny says

    She is cleaning 😄 I can’t wait to see her at the sanctuary 🤗

  4. REPLY
    Kenneth Newman says

    Pocha and Guillermina, 6 weeks away?, 5 weeks away? or even closer? to their lifetime sanctuary?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      still no definitive date yet

  5. REPLY
    Carol says

    She is unbelievable!!! Doing some Fall cleaning!!! Lolllll! I am doing the same but here in Long Island it is Spring cleaning…😂😂😂

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      where in Long Island, that is where I grew up–kat

  6. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    Wow, what a great housekeeper! I imagine they’re loving all the attention they’ve been getting lately. I’ve been trying to remember when they’ll be starting the journey. Will they get plenty of time to get used to their crate like Bambi did?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      they will have more time due to the need for separation

  7. REPLY
    Julie says

    Pocha is adorable, and very handy to have around. I love her already!

  8. REPLY
    Lila Nieto says

    Pochaaaaa! I love the way she cleans the broom at the end against the bars. I can’t wait to see them all in Sanctuary.

  9. REPLY
    Wim says

    A real queen of clean. Wonderful contribution in any herd. 🙏🐘

  10. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Sweeping back and forth followed by a couple of taps of the broom when all done – Pocha and I have something in common 😂❤️

  11. REPLY
    Kate says

    I can’t wait to see them all at ESB. I laughed when she shook the ‘dust’ off at the end.

  12. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    I just can’t wait to see their reaction as they take in the sanctuary and all its beauty. Trees, space, friends to make.

  13. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH MY GOODNESS🐘🐘, ELPEPHANTS NEVER CEASE TO BE AMAZING!❤️! I JUST THINK THIS IS SO CUTE HOW POCHA 🐘DELIBERATELY WAS DUSTING OR MOPING THE FLOOR WITH THE BRANCH OF LEAVES IN HER TRUNK😍. SUCH A HUMAN TYPE ACTION SHE HAS LIKELY SEEN KEEPERS CLEANING WITH BROOMS MANY TIMES SO SHE TRIED IT ALSO, BOREDOM MAYBE, BUT SO CUTE😍‼️

  14. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    I may be very hard when it comes to separating mother and daughter; Heaven knows what will be going through their minds. It will be interesting watching them getting used to their separate crates. I am sure you will take great efforts to keep them in sight of each other.
    They are going to have such a wonderful time once they realise they are still together in a wonderland.

  15. REPLY
    Carey says

    Well done for doing all you can to harvest browse, it was interesting to hear how they play with it before eating it, how important it is.

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.