The Difference Grazing Can Make

Ramba_ September 2015
Elephant care is incredibly nuanced and it requires us to constantly step back to reassess and re-analyze how we approach the care for each individual. Not too long ago, someone saw a photo of Ramba and questioned if she was losing weight.

Those of you who have been following Ramba’s progress, know that in 2013 we visited her because we had observed muscle and weight loss that was disconcerting in update photos. Fortunately, with a change in her hay supply and shift in her diet, she bounced right back. But Ramba is no longer a spring chicken, with her age, we take every question about her physical well-being seriously. When this question emerged we looked back at photos taken of Ramba through the previous weeks and months, taking into consideration lighting, body angle, time of day as each can play a factor in changing her physical appearance. We were able to quickly determine that indeed she was not losing weight and the suggestion of weight loss was due to the angle of the photo that brought up the concern. Through this process we did note a shift however, a positive one that evolved over just a couple of short weeks. As spring emerged in Chile, the grass in her yard started to grow and Ramba didn’t have to spend time in the barn due to temperatures, Ramba’s activity level increased. It was nothing extreme, just the normal constant movement of wandering and grazing.
Ramba_ October 2015


Ramba’s yard is far from ideal; it is only 2 acres, which is nowhere near large enough to sustain her physically or psychologically. It is however, due to their purposeful flooding irrigation, enough to grow a little grass that allows her to spend some of her day grazing. This simple activity that can normally consume up to 20 hours of a wild elephant’s day, is enough to stimulate muscle use, toning and tightening. It also changes Ramba’s mental well-being. It lifts her spirits, which improves her posture and can ultimately influence her physical appearance.

When we talk about the countless benefits that will come with Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, the most substantial, aside form the vast, expansive habitat, is climate. Year round warm temperatures and a year round growing season means Ramba and others will never again be confined to a barn, they will never again experience the winter doldrums. And, all year round, they will be able to do the simplest but also the most fundamental activity for good physical and psychological health: graze and forage. The difference in Ramba after just a couple of short weeks of warm spring temperatures was detectable, just imagine how she look when she never has to experience another cold winter and has room to graze for weeks straight without ever retracing her steps.

Photo Analysis

elephant grazingJust to give you an understanding of what we were looking at, here is some of what was noted in regards to the top two photos. The 2 photos used were as close as we could get to the same body angle:

Her musculature is more developed in the bottom photo, causing her to hold her body differently-which is a good thing. In the top picture you can see her body just hangs on her skeletal frame. But in the bottom photo it is supported by muscle and doesn’t just sag. It’s noticeable around her neck area as well as her abdominal area looking tighter.

Her shoulder is more defined due to muscles, more muscle and less fat will also change how prominent her hip is. We have never like judging her weight by her left hip bone, because it can change so much-due to it being abnormal.

You can also see that she was lacking muscle along her spine (in the top photo there is a dip in her skin below her spine) and now, in the bottom photo, you can see it is more developed.






  1. REPLY
    Maria Jarisch says

    So schön mit den Elefanten <3

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