It was recently Rana’s turn for a pedicure “tune-up.” While Lady receives foot care almost daily due to the condition of her feet, our other elephants receive foot care on an as-needed basis. Rana has one toenail that had an issue when she arrived and it usually needs a little more attention. We recently decided to do a little maintenance work on that toenail in the habitat along a fence.
Rana had different ideas. First, she pretended like she couldn’t reach her foot up high enough (she can). Once she cooperated enough to put her foot on the bar, she acted like she couldn’t turn her body or her foot at all. It was an exercise in futility.
Of course, Mara was with her. Mara was thrilled because all that she had to do was stay a few feet away to get treats. Rana, of course, had to do things to get her treats. She didn’t have to do much – just stand in a specific position with her foot on a bar while we accessed her toenails, but she wasn’t feeling very cooperative.
We had planned on working on Rana’s foot for about ten minutes, and it ended up taking much longer because she wanted to cooperate enough to get treats, but not enough to do what was being asked of her. It was pretty charming.
The next day, we brought Rana to the barn and asked her to enter the medical treatment chute (which is a smaller area of the barn for medical care). As soon as she walked in the chute, we asked for her foot once, and she presented it immediately. She was perfect the entire time. Rana is usually such a cooperative elephant that we take it with a grain of salt when she doesn’t exactly cooperate.