Now that Mara is more settled into sanctuary life, it is time to start doing a little more.
We take things step by step at sanctuary – as always, an elephant’s comfort is of the utmost importance. It’s usually better to let an elephant find a certain level of comfort before we start adding new routines to an already new life. With Mara and Rana’s immediate bond, we also needed to make sure that Mara adjusted to temporarily separating from Rana before increasing the separation time with treatments. Even though they can still see each other, we want to make sure we minimize stress when possible.
Not only is Mara now comfortable being separated from Rana inside of the barn, but she is also more comfortable with her new team of humans. Knowing this, we felt it was time to start foot trimming.
As our habitat is vastly different from what she had in her previous enclosure, the pads of her feet and nails wear much differently here. Not only is she walking more and encountering more hills, but she is walking on different substrates and using her feet to dig. Combined with how much time she spends getting her feet wet, her feet are already changing on their own, but it’s helpful for us to support these changes by trimming her pads and nails. Even though she had regular footwork at the EcoParque, it’s still different here, so it’s best to start with the basics.
We have bars at a few different heights in the chute, but there is one bar we generally use for footwork. There is another bar above it, so it ends up being a little square that the elephants put their foot through. When we first asked Mara to present her foot, she couldn’t quite find the hole with her foot. Rather than gently feeling for the spot, she forcefully tried to find it. We call this ‘crazy foot’ and it’s fairly common. Of course, that didn’t go well, and she loudly banged the bars with her foot as she tried to find the right spot. It didn’t hurt her, but it was pretty loud. Once she got it in the correct location, she settled right in. After she figured out where her foot went, she found the exact position on the first try after that.
We did a small amount of trimming of her both of her back pads, and she was fantastic. Similar to Maia, she was happy to leave her foot up in the position for a couple of minutes at a time. She was gentle and receptive the entire time. Mara continues to impress us with how seamlessly she has fit in here – it seems like she’s been here forever. Her being so stellar with footwork reinforces that feeling!
Once we finished and told her she was all done, she didn’t anxiously rush out or leave the chute. Of course, once she backed out and rejoined Rana, they had a little party.
Photo of Mara drying off in the sun after getting her feet (and the rest of her body) wet.