October 4, 2014

a naughty elephant named Faa Sai

 as i previously mentioned, Lek's team at the Elephant Nature Park [elephantnaturepark.org] uses 100 percent positive reinforcement in the training and management of the elephants.  each elephant has a mahout which is an elephant handler.  they typically develop deep bonds because they are with the elephants all day, every day.  the mahout makes sure the elephant is safe and fed well.  it's not always a love match as in this case.

Faa Sai is a very smart, highly trained elephant that was rescued from a performing circus.  over the last few days the elephant gossip in the park has been about how she doesn't like her new mahout and has been balking at going into her pen at night.  at 4PM when the mahouts start putting the elephants into their pens for the night i wander over to the main platform to get a front row seat.

sure enough, they are luring her with all kinds of treats, including a pickup truck filled with corn stalks [yeah, it's really yummy for the elephants and it's like a tea time snack].  she's not having any of it and eventually the mahouts have to ignore her.  she doesn't like that either so she wanders over to a bunch of trees.  i whip out my camera because i know she's going to be getting into some kind of trouble and i am not disappointed.

she wraps her trunk around one tree and gives it a tug but it doesn't move much.

she moves over to a smaller tree and gives that a tiny shake.

yep.  that one gives a little bit and so there's a big shake and a huge CRACK.

she finishes it off by stepping on it and comes crashing to the ground.

she dances around a bit, rips off a branch with her trunk and shakes it around.

Derrick [not a mahout] shows up and tells her she's naughty and gets her to push it out of the road.

which she does, sortof, with a bit of flamboyance.

Faa Sai is

she does a victory lap around the platform with one of branches.  it starts to rain [monsoon rain] and it takes about two hours to get her into her pen.  

it takes a ton of patience and heaps of love to do what the team at the Elephant Nature Park does and i am so happy that they are getting worldwide recognition for their devotion.

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