I feel like there should be a ‘graphic content’ warning So this is Rana’s treatment that she receives daily. For those who don’t know, she arrived with severe irritation of the entire area between her back legs. She would lift her back leg, swat with her tail and kick the area incessantly. It is very much improved, no UTI, her vulva retracts normally now, but it’s a touch thickened, so we continue to treat to ensure there isn’t a relapse.
We wanted to share this video for a few reasons, the first is that inevitably someone asks why we lock her up. This training and treatment take up about 20 minutes of her entire day, the rest is spent wandering the habitat. But the harsh reality is elephants arrive at the sanctuary with many physical issues due to a captive existence that didn’t meet their physical or emotional needs. In order to provide them with the best life, we have to be able to address and treat these issues in a safe way, so we use training walls and corridors to get this done. But, as you can see, the gate isn’t closed in front of her, just behind her for safety. She can walk away at any point in time but does not.
Rana seems to have an understanding that her treatment is what has made her feel better, so she happily comes in and stays for it. Her treatment at this point doesn’t take too much time. It is broken up into three parts, so she isn’t standing without reward for too long. An initial rinse, since she likes mud so much and generally has a nice coating, a wash to ensure proper pH, and then treatment. If she is having a fussy day (which is rare) we break it up with target training to keep her interest and give her increased large food rewards, which she of course enjoys.
Showing the video also allows people to see that you can do these kinds of procedures, with total cooperation and have the elephant completely relaxed. Sometimes it takes more time to get this accomplished but pushing too quickly generally creates distrust. Rana is a gem, but this is the goal for everything we do with all elephants.
And lastly, we’re sharing because she’s cute and squeaks. She almost always squeaks during treatment or during training or while waiting for her palms to come out after her treatment, but it’s so hard to get on camera. As soon as you put the phone down, she squeaks. So at least you can hear a heart-melting squeak.
March 9, 2019
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