Home / News / EleNotes / January 21, 2015
By: The Elephant Sanctuary

January 21, 2015

Winter’s Enrichment at The Sanctuary

Frieda, Billie, and Liz
L-R: Frieda, Billie, Liz

Winter at The Sanctuary means that all of the elephants are choosing to spend more time in and near their heated barns. All of the elephants are spending their nights inside and then soaking up the sun outside during the daytime (see above). The elephants stay nearer the barns to be able to go in easily when they get chilly. Spending less time exploring the habitat means more special environmental enrichment opportunities for the elephants provided by the caregivers. During warmer months, the elephants travel throughout the habitat to explore the natural environment within the 2700 acres here at Sanctuary. In the winter however, we get a bit more creative in how to provide opportunities for the elephants to exhibit and exercise natural behavior.  For example….

At Asia

On the day after Christmas, all the Girls received some special enrichment. It was cool that day, but not cool enough for the Girls to choose to stay inside. Caregivers decided that Sissy and Winkie would have a new addition to their habitat. Caregiver Nicole explains that it started with a joke: “Earlier in the week several caregivers cleaned up some pine trees that had fallen in the south yard of Asia. Jokingly, someone suggested making a ‘Lincoln Log’ house for the girls. WELL that joke was accepted and we DID build them a Lincoln Log house filled with hay and bamboo skewered with pineapple slices.” Sissy and Winkie came out to see the new structure, and you can see the rest below.

Sissy and Winkie returned periodically throughout the afternoon to continue their “investigation.”
Monday, January 26th, will mark 15 years since Sissy’s arrival at Sanctuary.

At Q

The Q elephants also got some special holiday-themed enrichment “treats:” cardboard boxes filled with hay, peppermints, rice krispies, and marshmallow fluff.

Debbie and Ronnie
Debbie and Ronnie


Billie and Liz
Billie and Liz

Billie and the tire
Billie really enjoyed a tire given to her the other day by her caregivers;
it was sprayed with honeydew scent and stuffed with hay.

Billie checks out a PVC chain filled with snow peas & peanut butter.
Billie also used her trunk to check out a “PVC chain” furnished with snow peas
(peanut butter serves as an all-purpose adhesive in the barns).

Minnie doesn't seem to mind the cold weather.
Minnie seems to not mind the cold weather as much. On days when the rest of the Q Girls
are enjoying the warmth of the barn, Minnie will venture out into the habitat
for a lengthy stroll along the creek , an occasional nap, and maybe even
a relocation of her culvert.


And at The Welcome Center

At the Welcome Center, an enrichment workshop was hosted for the children.

On Saturday, Jan 17th, we hosted an enrichment workshop for children at our Welcome Center in Hohenwald, TN. Visitors helped us stuff popcorn into giant boomer balls (for the elephants to retrieve later), created hay feeders out of 5-gallon buckets, and decorated goody bags for the Girls.  The day was such a success, we hope to do it again in the near future. Stay tuned to our facebook page for announcements concerning dates.

Don’t forget to bookmark our News page to keep up to date with recent developments regarding elephants in captivity and in the wild, and keep an eye on our EleCams to watch the Girls in their habitat in real time.

Sanctuary Much!



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