Sissy has been receiving a lot of additional enrichment and attention from Caregivers when she so desires, and is again beginning to show excitement in the early mornings.
Care staff report Sissy is popping her trunk, her signal she is excited, and allowing staff to hose her down when it’s hot. Sissy has been eating well and even putting on some weight—clearly enjoying the additional enrichment items she’s been given.
The Sanctuary is still deeply feeling the loss of Sissy’s closest companion Winkie (see EleNote). Now 49, Sissy retired to The Sanctuary in 2000 from the El Paso Zoo in Texas. Sissy arrived just a few weeks before Winkie. Both elephants came to The Sanctuary with a reputation of being anti-social and unable to get along well with other elephants, but they seemed to be a perfect fit for one another—spending nearly all their time together exploring the Asia Habitat.
Caregivers are getting creative with enrichment for Sissy, which she receives three times a day. In the wild, the daily search for food, water, and other needs provide elephants with all the environmental interactions they require. We encourage the elephants at Sanctuary to utilize the environment in the same way, but also create additional opportunities to engage the elephants’ senses, challenge their problem-solving capabilities, and promote mental and physical health.
Produce scatters, hay cages stuffed with goodies, and hanging feeders have been keeping her busy. Most often, she has been observed engaging with a large hanging street sweeper brush as well as hanging donut toys. Although hanging items have been challenging for Sissy in the past due her trunk paralysis (records indicate that this may be due to a dental procedure earlier in her life), Caregivers have been impressed with her continued efforts and engagement with this type of enrichment, which has proven to be great exercise. Sissy has also been spending time in the shaded woods surrounding her habitat, often observed standing quietly or scratching her body against trees. She also dusts herself with sand frequently and has been giving herself baths from a waterer.
This past weekend, Caregivers played classical music for Sissy while she was near the barn. She stood perfectly still with her ears out listening intently. Caregivers tossed her some hay and Sissy continued to stand nearby eating her hay and listening with her ears flapping slowly and her eyes relaxed.
Sissy will continue to spend time in Asia Habitat’s 8-acre South Yard for a period of time, where she is receiving treatment for exposure to TB and is being monitored closely, however Care Staff report that they are very pleased with how well she is doing.
To adopt Sissy or any of The Sanctuary's elephants, visit shop.elephants.com and click "Adopt an Elephant."