For the past 26 years, rescued Asian and African elephants have found refuge at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The 2,700-acre sanctuary provides a place where the elephants can roam free alongside other rescued elephants and received proper care for the first time in their lives.
Elephants are the largest land mammals with African elephants weighing up to 6 tons (over 13,000 pounds). So, foot care is crucial to their well-being – especially when the elephants have been neglected and forced to live in cramped conditions.
Caregivers at the sanctuary are taught how to properly care for the elephants, which includes performing weekly pedicures and regular foot examinations on the elephants.
“They must go through extensive training to learn about elephant foot anatomy, foot problems in captive elephants, and preventative care,” posted the sanctuary.
To keep everyone safe, there are protective training walls with built in footrests to gain an elephant’s trust and to perform the daily and weekly checkups.
A video posted to Instagram detailed what is involved in caring for an elephant’s feet. They are checked regularly to make sure there aren’t any stones, cracks, or painful abscesses. Then once a week they are scrubbed and their nails are filed, if needed.
The caption read, “Elephants who have spent their lives in captivity need frequent foot care to stay healthy and enjoy exploring. Sanctuary elephants’ large, shock-absorbing foot pads are checked for debris and scrubbed often by Care Staff, making pachyderm pedicures not a splurge, but a vital element of elephant health care at The Sanctuary!”
The devoted staff takes it one step further by taking radiographs and keeping a photo diary of each elephant’s feet. This way they can see if any changes occur.
The individualized care also includes a proper diet, dental exams, and enrichment exercises. This ensures each elephant is in the best physical and mental condition possible.
A full-time staff of caretakers and veterinary team look after the herd and interact through positive reinforcement and allow the elephants freedom of choice.
Something most of them never had.
The nine resident elephants choose how they want to spend their time and if they want to spend it alone or with another elephant.
The elephant habitats are closed to the public to allow the mammals to live as naturally as possible. People can still catch a glimpse of the majestic animals through the live-streaming EleCam, a system of solar-powered cameras located throughout the sanctuary.
Meet the current residents by clicking here.
The sanctuary not only focuses on taking care of the elephants but also educates the public on the complex needs of elephants in captivity and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.
Learn more about the sanctuary by watching the video below.
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