Each year we welcome over 2,500 students and staff from schools worldwide.
11-12 June 2018
Helping the elephants at Elephant world, Kanchanaburi
Students from ELC School in Bangkok came to visit us today to learn more about our wonderful species and give some of our older residents’ breakfast and some special tasty treats.
The morning started with our usual mid-morning snack- these are individually tailored to each elephant depending on our needs. The younger elephants prefer sweeter foods so often get lots of banana and watermelon, while older resident such as myself prefer some more savoury treats as well including Yam bean. After feeding us the students learned more about our diets- how in the wild we often eat tree bark as a form of medicine if we are feeling unwell and how we learn to thrash some of the tougher vegetation using our trunks to soften it before eating. The group were surprised how many of their favourite food were shared with us elephants- pineapple, mango, sugar cane, bananas, watermelon, and cucumber!
The next stop was to visit the two newest residents at our sanctuary, Sai Yok and Norgael, the 1 month and 3 month old baby elephants. The children were shocked to learn that an elephant is pregnant for almost 2 years before giving birth to a baby that weighs as much as 120kgs or 3 school children!
Watching the babies suckle they found out that this can continue until the babies are up to 3 years old, though from around 6 months they will also start to forage and begin eating solid foods as well.
During a game of Habitat Crunch before their visit the group had become an elephant herd and had learned about how elephants have matriarchal societies led by mature females and that males leave the group when they reach maturity and live solitary lives or in bachelor groups. They also discussed the challenges we elephants face by habitat loss and poachers and about some of the jobs that we have been used for by people in Thailand, such as logging, elephant trekking and in zoos or as a tourist attraction.
At lunch time the students travelled out to help collect bana grass for us to eat. The bana grass is fed as whole shoots to the younger elephants but many of my older elephant friends have already lost their teeth so need some extra help with their food.
For these elephants the bana grass is shredded and mixed together with mashed bananas, and special elephant pellets which contain lots of other grasses and fibre. This mushy mixture is moulded into soft balls which the toothless elephants can easily eat and digest.
Our final activity of the day was bath time in the river. Students watched as our mahouts lead us into the water and bathed us. During the day we often give ourselves mud baths with either dry or wet mud, using our trunks to spread, blow and squirt the mud over us. This acts as a sunscreen to help protect our delicate skin (elephants can get sunburnt you know!!) and it also helps to stop us get bitten by flies and mosquitos. Once a day we head down to the river where we can splash and play (we love water) and where we get a good clean. Our trunks can act lie snorkels allowing us to breathe while our bodies are underwater so we are able to really lay down and submerge ourselves in the cool refreshing water.
Us elephants had a wonderful day with the students and were glad to help teach the children more about Thailand’s iconic national animal.