Elephant Health Checks

By Harrison Aujla 4 years ago
Categories Chiang Mai

Here at GVI, the health of our elephants is taken very seriously and so routine health checks are routinely carried out in order to assess the condition of the various elephants. This usually ranges from checking the skin for any penetrative wounds or simply looking at their feet to see if they are producing a regular amount of sweat. In this post I’m simply going to talk about the first time I did a health check, and the overall experience that I had with it.

After setting off at the usual time of 7:30am, with the usual weather of rain, we made our way down to see the baby elephants, which includes Pbee Mai, Mario and Lulu. These elephants are an absolutely wonderful bunch to work with and study because they’re simply so playful and energetic, comparable to the likes of toddlers hyped up on sugar. This amount of energy can also lead to be a bit troublesome when conducting health checks however, as they’re always more interested in something else. We combat this problem by feeding them treats so that they stay focused on one spot and don’t move around, which proves to be highly effective and also quite fun for the person feeding the elephants as you feel their warm trunks hoover your hands and clothes for more food!

The elephant which I was conducting a health check on was Lulu, a beautiful, sweet and relaxed individual when compared to the inseparable Mario and Pbee Mai. Once she was captivated by the glorious treats that awaited her taste buds, I started the examination. First thing to check is whether or not there are any biting flies, ticks, insects or larvae on the skin or ears, you can usually tell if there are biting flies around as you feel them having a grand old time on your own skin, which proves to be incredibly irritating and rather maddening. Luckily for me there were very few biting flies around, and I only felt their pointless nips a few times. Next to check was for any wounds that may have appeared, Lulu is a careful girl and thankfully did not have any penetrative wounds on her skin, she also smelt pretty good for an elephant, so that covered the part of the health check where you must see if there are any bad smells.

At this point Lulu was getting rather greedy and started to move forward to find any fallen glints of nuggets that had managed to escape the wrath of this unstoppably hungry elephant, so I hurried up to her large eyes that have a tendency to stare into your soul, and checked them for any irritation, cloudiness or debris, she was cleared of all of these. Along with the eyes, I also looked at her ears for any discharge or drainage, if any of this was found it could be a rather serious issue, but as she is such a careful girl, she was also clear of this.

We continued to go through the motions of the health check, and she passed it all, therefore making her a very healthy elephant. One of the final things that was checked was her mouth to see if it was the standard light pink colour associated with a healthy elephant mouth, this was troublesome to see from my angle as she was still gorging on those supreme nuggets, but eventually she eased up and we could see that her mouth was light pink, and smelt alright, I wasn’t exactly expecting minty fresh.

Overall, the health check was a great experience that I cannot wait to repeat in the future with these fun loving babies, as they’re very interesting and get you into contact with these Gods of the forest all in the name of welfare and scientific knowledge!