Despite the lack of photographical evidence (due to a corrupt memory card) our Saturday morning was spent washing and sorting elephant food including squash and watermelons. Having finished early we reunited Team Poop to get the shit done! (tee hee hee)
Before lunch Mindy witnessed what we now refer to as The Elephant Kerfuffle:
Relaxing in the hand-carved wooden chairs looking out to the feeding area (see picture below), I was watching three elephants being fed by some day visitors. Elephants cover themselves in mud to protect their sensitive skin from sunburn, so when the mud dries and becomes itchy, they like to scratch themselves against things. Trees are a favorite scratching post, but their rubbing pulls off the tree bark, and the trees die. Park officials have thus started building fences around the trees, and at the same time, increase the number of non-living scratching posts: large cement cylinders.
While the elephant trio ate peacefully, a big truck carrying one of these cylinders backed into the feeding area, and dropped off its cargo (the cylinder is lying on the ground in the picture below). The sudden thud, combined with the engine noise, startled the elephants. They quickly turned around to face the truck, two acting as bookends standing protectively over a horrified elephant in the middle (she crouched down low, and wet herself because she was so scared). All three started growling and slapping their trunks fiercely on the ground, both of which are defensive behaviors.
At this point, all the mahouts knew that their elephants were spooked, and did their best to reassure them that all was ok. But, enticing these scared animals with bananas wasn’t enough. One of the elephants charged the truck, pushing it with its trunk, making it lurch to a side. Then it moved to the cement cylinder, and using its trunk, rolled it over with such ease; it was like me flicking a tennis ball on a table.
Eventually, the elephants settled down enough to leave the area. Their mahouts led them with food and feeding time continued as scheduled. I’m still unsure as to why the truck driver thought it was a good idea to drop the cylinder at that time, but I’m convinced he was happy the mahouts got control of the situation so quickly, before the truck was tipped on its side!
After lunch and elephant bathing it was time for a group photo. Can you find Mindy and Ligeia ?
This elephant couldn’t resist the limelight! We all quickly got out of her way.
For dinner that night, a special northern Thai meal was prepared for us and served to us in the traditional way. We sat with Adam, Carolyn and Rebecca:
Here is a close-up of the meal. Mindy found most of it too spicy but enjoyed the deep fried squash. Ligeia, on the other hand, even added more spice to each dish.
We fell asleep a little sad that our last day was approaching. We had grown quite attached to the elephants and had become accustomed to seeing them around all the time.
Mindy and Ligeia :):)