Some Footwork for Maia, Too


In addition to Rana, we recently did some touch-up footwork on Maia as well. Maia receives the least frequent footwork out of all of our elephants. Not only is she our speediest elephant, but she explores more than anyone else here and uses her feet for frequent digging up of roots. Similar to wild elephants, those behaviors, along with frequent dips in ponds and mud wallows, do the majority of her footwork for us.

When we first asked Maia to present her feet for footwork, she responded by being super lazy. She leaned her head against the bars of the fence. Like with Rana, she still wanted her treats, but she didn’t want to pick up her feet to earn them. Also like Rana, we were attempting to do footwork after breakfast, which tends to be food coma time. But it’s also a great time, schedule-wise, to try and get some elephant things done.

Maia gave us her trunk instead of her feet and closed her eyes. We gave her a couple of treats to see if she was at all interested or if it was truly nap time. With her treats we gave her a few handfuls of dried cranberries, and she immediately perked up.

It was as if she realized that cranberries were worth waking up for. She may not have been excited to participate in footwork for fruit, but once she realized she was earning cranberries, she was a complete rockstar. This is part of the reason why we use more exciting treats for our “bigger” asks – to be effective, the reward needs to be proportionate to the behavior. The girls seem to understand the increased level of appreciation.

Once we finished working on her feet, she sauntered over to the mud wallow for a good coating and some much-earned relaxation.

June 25, 2020



  1. REPLY
    Kyle says

    Cranberries are delicious! Smart girl for only working for food! We are similar in the sense that we both perk up when given food! #WorkForFood

  2. REPLY
    Wim says

    They must have a secret competition who wins the Oscar for earning the most treats in the fastest world record time. Clever girls are never without fruit. ??????

  3. REPLY
    Bertica Valdes Suarez says

    Maia, look how you improved an already stunning landscape and Kat, your eye for perfect composition shows your girl off. I think I’m loving the pictures more than the videos these days. I have to go back to work in early August and I hope i don’t get in trouble for sneaking peeks into my phone. I wish this picture was a for sale wall poster.

    • REPLY
      Anella Stewart says

      I agree. I have a framed print of a beautiful large African Bull in my downstairs washroom and would dearly love to have posters of all the lovely GSE ladies alongside to show off & admire on a regular basis. Kat certainly knows how to successfully capture the essence of each of the ladies in her photos…so endearing & heartwarming.

  4. REPLY
    Sheila says

    Bravo maia?‼️u r such a rockstar in the feet dept.? u really do have a strong wild side in the sense u dig with your feet‼️ good girl?! Glad to see u got cranberries??they r real tasty! Im sure ur so smart you often come for foot care, remembering the cranberries?

  5. REPLY
    Julie says

    Another great pic of beautiful, interesting Maia!

  6. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    Maia – a rock star! Love that visual of seeing her lazily resting her head against the fence and offering her trunk!!! Nice try Maia!!!

  7. REPLY
    Carey says

    She is sooooo beautiful!

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