All young ones love elephants; we can’t help but be fascinated by these huge, intelligent creatures that fill our storybooks and childhood culture.
We were lucky enough to visit an Elephant Sanctuary in Malaysia recently. The children were able to feed baby elephants (sticks of sugar cane) and the older members of the herd (paw paw fruit – yes that is of a very ripe paw paw being squished in very close proximity to my scrunched face, juices were squirting everywhere, but I love the calm look on Anicas face as she interacts with this giant creature).
We also had the chance to wash the elephants in the near by river, and while all these things were very fun for us humans, we could tell the animals were not being miss treated or misused. In Malaysia they have banned all elephant rides, with the exception of the staff who work with them day in day out (for practical reasons it is far easier for elephant and human to ride an elephant to the river than to lead one there!) They also actively limited what us ‘blow in tourists’ could do with the elephants and ensured that, while we had a satisfying elephant experience, it was not at the animals detriment or discomfort.
Some things that surprised us about the elephants were:
- How hairy their bodies actually are! (Even their trunks are covered in a scattering of thick black hairs),
- How genuinely gentle they are around us tiny humans (even the youngest members of the group seemed to realize their immense size and power and contain it)
- How a human like the baby elephant personalities are (I’m not the one to always attribute human emotions to animals, but that cheeky intelligent glint in their eye as they sneak a piece of sugar cane when you are feeding their friends, it is very much like a human child and very endearing, a great example to our kids that animals have feelings and emotions too.)
We’ll have a little elephant inspired craft coming up, but for a casual introduction into these lovely gentle giants watch this short video.