The basics of life are food, water and shelter. Everything else is a bonus. In the animal care world we call that Enrichment – used to improve the quality of life; providing stimulation of some kind perhaps physical, mental and/or social.
On Saturday, Jane (a dedicated elephant keeper) showed me a very impressive structure in San Diego’s Elephant paddock providing all that!
The ‘Tree’ has rough concrete sides for the elephants to rub against (exfoliation is top priority for pachyderms), there are mesh cages in the sides where hay and other food can be inserted. On top you can see there’s shade. There’s also winches on timers so that hay bags etc can be filled early in the day and timed to drop down at intervals for perhaps 15 minutes at a time. Fabulous…encouraging elephants to think, plan and move around to get their food!