Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trunk in Hand: Walking with Elephants

Making a full day of adventure and animals on July 8th, the Harrington's ended their day at the Elephant Sanctuary. They were welcomed to the sanctuary with a hot mug of rooibos before being lead out to meet the elephants. Three elephants hailed from Botswana while the others came by way of Kruger National Park. Those from Botswana were to be under the care of the Harrington's and crew for the next hour. The group learned that these three elephants each a story to tell, a story of abuse and abandonment. Two had had their trunks caught in traps causing them to lose about 6 inches off the tip of their trunk while the other was kept as a pet until he became to large for the space. So here, at the sanctuary, they were learning to be wild, to feed themselves and to become family with eachother and the other three elephants.

Three at a time guests took turns holding their hands out to an elephant who would gently rest his trunk in their hand and be lead down a short trail. At the end of the short walk each guest had the opportunity to watch some "tricks", see the mouths, ears, tails, and feet of an elephant and of course take a few photos. It was then time for other guests to lead the elephants back to our starting point where they would be fed and groomed.

Each guest had the opportunity to feed the three elephants a variety of pumpkin and carrots. As soon as the bowls were empty, the elephants were walking away from the dinner table and preparing to be groomed. Guests then took turns brushing the elephants and having a few last words and photos with the gentle grey giants. After a short class on the anatomy and lifespan on elephants it was time for guests to return to their hostels or hotels, but not until taking a moment to gaze out into the stunning landscape of South Africa.

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