How to give an elephant a pedicure
Elephants in the wild can travel up to fifty miles in a day, but usually cover about ten miles. That fact alone means it is difficult for elephants in captivity — whether a sanctuary, Zoo, or circus — to live a healthy life.
One of the main health problems with captive elephants is their feet. Elephants in the wild naturally wear down the keratin on their feet as they walk around all day foraging for food. In captivity, their nails can grow too big, causing pain and problems walking. To solve that problem, Zoos give elephants pedicures on a weekly basis. Of course, in order to give an elephant a pedicure, you have to have an elephant! How about this one at the San Diego Zoo:
Once you have the elephant, you have to train it so that it will cooperate with you when you want to give it a pedicure. Elephants are extremely intelligent animals, so it’s really not hard to train them. The easy way to get them to do what you want them to do is to reward them with food:
After you have him trained, the rest is really easy. First, you get the elephant to stand in some buckets of water to soften his nails:
While he’s standing there, you continue to reward him for his good behavior. See the hay and carrots?
Also while he’s standing there, you give him a bath:
Elephants are big, getting to over 11 feet tall and up to 24,000 pounds, so by the time you finishing giving him a bath, his feet are all softened up and ready for the pedicurist.
Now you get the elephant to stick his feet up on the bar so you can wash them. You want a completely clean elephant and certainly don’t want to be working on stinky feet.
All this time, while one is washing the elephant, it helps if someone else continues to feed it, so you could make this a family event.
Once the elephant and his feet are all clean….
….you go to work clipping his toenails and cleaning all the dead stuff off his feet:
Remember to keep feeding the elephant because it wants food in return for letting you give it a pedicure:
Once you’re all done, be sure to let the elephant show off his pedicure:
There you have it. Real easy. Hope your elephant likes it!
All pictures taken by Russel Ray using a Canon 550D in the Conrad Prebys Elephant Care Center at the San Diego Zoo.
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Posted on February 23, 2012, in Fauna, Mother & Father Nature, Photos, Series, Zoo & Safari Park and tagged conrad prebys, elephant care, elephants, pedicure, san diego zoo. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.