Knowsley Safari Park, Elephants, 1.8.16

There are two species of elephant. Asian and African.

Their habitat includes Savannah, forests, swamps, and bush land.

Threats are poaching and habitat loss.

They are found in herds of approximately 10. The matriarch is the oldest female who is the decision maker, she teaches the daughters to become mothers and finds food and water sources. Males leave the herd at puberty.

They only absorb 40% of what they eat so the deposits of half digested materials promote plant growth. This is one of the reasons they are a keystone species. A key stone species is one who’s presence or absence affects many others.

Captive elephants are prone to foot conditions especially if they are on outdated concrete floors rather than soft substrate. Sand floor is naturally abrasive and mimics the elephants walking longer distances.

Their nails are filed down and excess sole is trimmed. Elephants walk on their toes so this is where the pressure is, so it is essential that their feet are taken care of to prevent absecces.

Every day their feet are also washed with Hibiscrub. Their faeces are acidic and as they are in captivity, are more likely to stand in it. This is a higher risk in winter when it is too cold for the elephants to go outside so are more likely to walk in their faeces.

In addition to the foot care, the elephants have to take supplements…

Linseed oil-> healthy skin, hair and nails

Elephant equivalent of cod liver oil

Malasis (sugar)

One elephant has concentrated cranberry supplements for urinary tract problems.

Another has pain relief as its legged splayed out at birth so dislocated its shoulders.

PC training enables the keepers to implement the preventative care of the elephants.

Target sticks and positive reinforcement are used, the elephants are trained to present their body parts so they can be inspected.

They’re free to walk away at any time!
An elephant had an abscess on his forehead, he was taught to learn down so it could be squeezed, this meant he didn’t require sedation

Taking blood: Use nail over vein after rubbing, desensitise them. Then push on vein, use a cocktail stick. Once they allow this, move on to a needle.

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