“Well, have you ever wondered what an elephant does all day long? We spend 18 hours a day preparing food and eating like it was going out of fashion. Us elephants eat a LOT; in fact, about 10% of our body weight each day. As herbivores, we consume grasses, tree foliage, bark, twigs, and other vegetation; not to mention bananas, juicy watermelon and plenty of coconuts. What do we mean by preparing food? Well, can you imagine eating the spiny top of a pineapple without any preparation? I thought not. You may have noticed that we smash our ‘greens’ against our legs or something solid; this softens the leaves and ensures that there are no sneaky bugs or any dirt left behind. Our digestive systems are not particularly strong; we only process about 50% of what we eat, so you can imagine all the dung we create in a day (almost 100kg!). Did you know that we drink about 200 litres of water each day too? That’s practically a bathtub full! And you know where we like to ‘go’ the best? In our water pools! Would you want to bathe with us?
Inbetween our lengthy feeding sessions; we love to communicate with each other. We do this with our trunks, either by making a noise or through touch. We can trumpet, squeak and rumble; each sound has a special meaning to us. Our trunks are used for many other tasks as well – we have a ‘finger’ at the end that enables us to pick things up with ease, we can use them as snorkels when we go swimming, and if we have naughty little ones around, we can give them a good trunk-thwak to discipline them!
We are very sociable creatures, and I’m sure that you will have seen from our Instagram and Facebook antics, we like to climb on top of each other, play, run and tease the rest of the herd. All of us are very different in personality. Nong Pech is a cheeky girl and is quite stubborn; she gives us nannies and her mahout a good run around sometimes, whereas Sri Nuan only likes baby elephants and picks fights with the rest of us.
After a busy day of eating and play, we love to sleep. We can snooze standing up, but we prefer to sleep lying down on our sandpiles; these make getting up and down much easier for us and are quite comfortable. The ‘elder’ elephants quite often stand over the babies while they sleep to make sure that they are safe.