Sissy has spent the summer fully exploring Asia’s eight-acre South Habitat. Care Staff added hay baskets in the trees and other enrichment items for her to discover daily as she traveled the woods and meadows. Sissy and her closest companion, Winkie, were moved to this area after a serological screening showed changes in tuberculosis status. Sissy began treatment for exposure, and following Winkie’s passing, further testing confirmed an active case of tuberculosis.
The decision was made to move Sissy from Asia Habitat to Quarantine Habitat, which was specifically established for the management, care, and enrichment of elephants in treatment for tuberculosis. On July 11, Sissy joined four other elephants in the Quarantine Habitat, Billie, Minnie, Ronnie, and Debbie, all of whom were exposed to TB prior to their arrival at The Sanctuary.
In preparation for her move, Care Staff worked to actively desensitize and acclimate Sissy to the trailer that was used to transport her between habitats. Sissy responded very well to the positive reinforcement and treats offered to her throughout the process. When moving day came, Sissy was very calm, and walked without hesitation into the trailer. After a short ride to her new home, the trailer doors were opened. Sissy calmly backed out of the trailer and began exploring Quarantine Habitat’s Pond Yard. Almost immediately, she discovered a pile of sand to dust herself with—then a waterer for a quick bath—and then she was back to dusting.
To allow Sissy time to adjust to her new surroundings, she is currently separated from the other elephants by a series of fences and buffer zones—however, the elephants are still able to communicate by sight, smell, and sound. Within Sissy’s first hour in her new habitat, Ronnie and Debbie walked over to one side of the buffer zone to periscope the air with their trunks and offer their greetings.
Long-time supporters of The Sanctuary will remember that Sissy lived in this habitat space from her arrival 2000 until 2006, when the founding herd was moved to the new Asia Habitat to make way for the incoming Hawthorn elephants. Care Staff look forward to seeing Sissy explore this space once again.
Sissy’s treatment will continue in Quarantine Habitat and she is being monitored closely by The Sanctuary Veterinary Team. Caregivers report that Sissy has had a great appetite, has been actively exploring her surroundings—including taking a dip in the pond—and regularly greets staff throughout the day with joyful trunk popping noises.
Visit www.elephants.com/Elecam to see a live-stream of Sissy in Q Habitat.