In late summer, maintenance staff remodeled part of the large habitat for Shirley, a 70-year-old Asian elephant now in her 19th year at The Sanctuary. They dug her a new pond/mud wallow, added a large sand pile, and opened up some trails in the woods. When Shirley was given access to this improved area she went straight up there and only came back to the barn once a week or every other week. She slept on the sand pile every night and could be found down in the mud every afternoon during the hottest parts of the day. She spent a lot of time in the woods, enjoying the shade and rubbing on trees, evident by the muddy elephant prints on the bark.
Now that the weather is colder, Shirley is staying closer to the barn. She has a sand pile in the barn for comfort when sleeping inside. With winter here, she is receiving more frequent cold laser therapy treatments to help relieve arthritic pain as she ages. Shirley's skin also tends to get a little drier in the winter months, so care staff prepare warmed coconut oil and apply it a couple of times a week as a moisturizer to the most affected areas.
With one back leg shorter than the other due to an old fracture, Shirley often has difficulty getting in a comfortable standing position. Vet staff, care staff, and maintenance staff all put their heads together to figure out an easy way for Shirley to be able to stand comfortably Their solution was to have Maintenance staff cut a large block of wood to be put in her stall where she frequently stands. Shirley quickly discovered that if she props her right hind foot on the block, her spine straightens and she is much more comfortable. Shirley now has two different blocks in her stalls and one outside. She moves them around depending on where she wants to stand so she always has a way to rest the leg!