Home / News / EleNotes / February 7, 2015
By: The Elephant Sanctuary

February 7, 2015

Winter’s Enrichment
Continued from January 21,2015 EleNote

On Saturday, January 17, The Elephant Sanctuary hosted a public workshop to prepare some special enrichment items for the Girls. Welcome Center visitors (adults and children alike) helped to create several devices for elephants to interact with as they’re choosing to spend additional time in or near their warm barns during the chilly winter months.
Winkie with paper chain
Winkie and Sissy
L-R: Winkie & Sissy

Sis and Winks seemed to really enjoy the enrichment devices created for them during the workshop. Caregivers set up "Lincoln logs," decorated with paper-chain crafted from re-purposed feed bags by workshop participants, and then filled the log apparatus with hay. When Sis and Winks walked up to it, Sissy made her “pop – pop” noise with her trunk. Winkie, meanwhile, displayed excitement by sucking her trunk into her mouth and making her “whale noise” vocalization, before deciding to check out the new additions. They each touched the paper and smelled the sweet-cinnamon spice sprinkled on it. Sissy (not normally a big fan of paper) went for the hay at the logs’ center, leaving all the garland for Winkie – who surely didn’t seem to mind. Winkie shoved each chain-loop in her mouth one by one, sometimes along with a trunk full of hay.

Over at Q, Ronnie checked out the chain with her trunk before she made it disappear.

The next enrichment workshop will be held at the Welcome Center at 27 E. Main Street in downtown Hohenwald, TN from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM on Saturday, Feb 21st. If you’re in or near southwest Middle Tennessee, please plan to join us!

Winter Wanderings at Q

Minnie has enjoyed several “rounds” with her favorite object of attention – the culvert.

While January has brought plenty of colder weather (and a tiny bit of snow) to Sanctuary, it’s also delivered nice days (and even some mild nights) that appeal to the Girls’ natural sense of exploration. And just as they’ll choose the indoors to enjoy special enrichment activities on colder days, when temperatures are milder, they’ll also choose the outdoors—the expansive and diverse nature of their Sanctuary habitat. EleCam viewers have gotten a bird’s eye view of Minnie’s creative interactions with a culvert that Caregivers placed out in her habitat.

Ronnie and Debbie

L-R: Ronnie and Debbie chose the leave the heated barn on a warm and very wet day to go for a stroll.

During a warm stretch earlier this year, staff noticed that Debbie and Ronnie were leaving the barn at night, opting to spend the more pleasant evenings relaxing outside. Ronnie was even spotted in an area of the habitat where she’s rarely been seen before, an area called “Barbie’s Wash,” atop a hill near the South Pond, named in honor of Barbara, the Sanctuary’s second resident who used to spend a lot of time there. Care staff believe this is probably where Ronnie ventures on nights when she decides to leave the barn.


Ronnie at “Barbie’s Wash.”

Liz, Billie & Frieda

L-R: Liz, Billie and Frieda grazing in the habitat.


The trio of Billie, Liz, and Frieda are still getting the lay of the land in their new habitat – spending days outside, and nights in. These three have experienced many, many triumphs since arriving at Sanctuary, and Frieda’s always been the trailblazer. In 2006 –after nearly 40 years as a performing elephant– Frieda arrived underweight and suffering from arthritis and osteomyelitis*.  For years, The Sanctuary’s Veterinary and Care team have worked with a very cooperative Frieda to ensure her Sanctuary experience is full and enriched. In recent weeks, Caregivers have reported that Frieda’s activities have slowed down. The Sanctuary Veterinary Team is therefore monitoring her more closely to help ensure her best comfort and care. Frieda has a long history of overcoming illness, so we’re all hopeful that she’ll be back to her old self soon.

*Osteo (bone) myelitis (soft tissue inflammation)is a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of the joints that unfortunately is common among performing elephants—elephants that spend much of their time confined to small spaces, with hard surfaces that offer little cushion or relief to the joints supporting their massive weight.


Frieda enjoying a warm, wet day in January 2015.

Remember to bookmark our News page to keep yourself apprised of elephant-related developments worldwide. And, thank you for your continued support of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.








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