After many decades without physical interaction with another elephant, Nosey has now been introduced to Tarra and Sissy over a fence line!
As noted in her health record since 2012, Nosey has a history of exposure to tuberculosis (TB) – as do the Asian elephants at The Sanctuary. The African elephants at The Sanctuary have no history of exposure to TB. Because of this, the decision was made for Nosey to live in a section of The Sanctuary's Asia Habitat, with access to the Asia Barn. As we awaited confirmation from the courts that The Sanctuary had permanent custody of Nosey, she had the ability to socialize with her Asian elephant neighbors, Tarra and Sissy, across a 25-foot buffer zone. Caregivers often observed the elephants rumbling to one another, with their ears out, listening attentively.
In the fall, The Sanctuary’s Veterinary Team made the decision to trim Nosey’s tusks to help prevent future breakage, forming them into a more useful shape that would encourage her to use them more naturally when interacting with her surroundings, and making it safer for her to interact with other elephants.
A long-time priority of The Sanctuary has been to create opportunities for Nosey to interact physically with other elephants. With her tusks trimmed, we felt it safe to facilitate a supervised introduction between Nosey and Tarra over a fence line. Cognizant of the physical differences between African and Asian elephants, a fence line introduction allows the elephants to grow comfortable with one another in their own time, with the added security that a barrier allows.
When finally introduced, Nosey and Tarra were both very relaxed, and spent several minutes smelling one another’s trunk, face, mouth, ears, eyes, and feet. Tarra showed particular interest in Nosey's tusks and mouth, while Nosey was taking in everything she could about Tarra! They rumbled to each other softly. The two were allowed supervised access to each other for three hours and were seen on four occasions meeting up for minutes at a time expressing the same relaxed, exploratory behaviors.
Two days later, Care Staff facilitated a brief introduction between Nosey, Tarra, and Sissy inside the barn. Sissy was more reserved and cautious than Tarra, but did acknowledge Nosey with soft rumblings, and stood nearby the stall fencing with her back end facing Nosey, ears out listening intently.
All of us at The Sanctuary are so excited to see how these relationships progress and are elated for new social opportunities for Nosey, Tarra, and Sissy.