January 13, 2012


Caregiver Sam and Ronnie practicing Protected Contact training at Q

The elephant care staff and all of us at The Sanctuary have been celebrating some major achievements with our Girls and Protected Contact training! The PC training has facilitated the success of the elephant care staff in treating our Girls effectively and improving the management of husbandry and health issues – all with the cooperation of the Girls. As always, during Protected Contact treatment and training, the Girls always have the choice to walk away and exercise free will!
 
Frieda's ongoing foot troubles are always a concern, and she continues to receive daily foot soaks to provide some relief. Thankfully, Frieda has also been wonderfully cooperative with her PC training as well, enabling Dr. Mikota to treat areas in need of attention and Director of Elephant Husbandry, Steve Smith, to trim overgrown tissue, a necessary and important part of sound foot care. 
 
Almost everyone can relate to the stress that can sometimes accompany being pricked with a needle for a blood test – but now imagine having to have the blood taken from your ear. In Africa, Caregivers Angela and Maddie have been working hard to train Flora and Tange to present their ears through the bars, allowing Caregivers to draw blood in Protected Contact. It took a while but recently, when Dr. Mikota stepped in to draw blood and take samples, Flora and Tange were both very calm and willing participants. This is a huge step for these two big Girls and we are all thrilled it went so smoothly!
 
In Asia last week, Winkie was shifted down to the PC training wall at the south end of the barn, where she graciously allowed Caregivers to do footwork on her right front foot. She remained perfectly calm throughout and at the end, when all the footwork was done, she decided to eat the target pole (don't worry – it is made from harmless paper towels, paper tape, and bamboo). Given the tremendous accomplishment that had just taken place, Caregivers were not about to complain!
 
Caregiver Laurie recently noticed Dulary straining to urinate. Concerned, she collected a urine sample which was sent off to the lab for urinalysis and culture. The urinalysis revealed the need for antibiotic treatment. Dulary loves bread, so her medication was disguised in an elephant form of a PB & J sandwich! The medications were mixed with bran and molasses and placed between the bread slices. Caregivers had to start getting to work a little earlier than usual to “make lunch” for Dulary - it took about 7 sandwiches to give her full dose.
 
The other day, Dulary, ever considerate of her friend Misty, suddenly decided she should share a sandwich with Misty and began to pass it to her through the stalls with her trunk. “Don't worry, Dulary,” her Caregiver said, “Misty will get some treats too!” The Caregivers began feeding Misty treats at the same time they fed Dulary her special sandwiches so that she could be assured her sister wasn't being left out. When the results of the culture came back, a switch to a more bitter antibiotic was required, so a gourmet sandwich had to be developed in the kitchen by Caregivers to hide the taste of the medication.
 
Velveeta and watermelon sandwich anyone? With a side of hay and branches?