The Asian elephant

Le Royaume de Ganesha

The Asian elephant

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They really managed to obtain star quality, despite their down-to-earth lifestyle. Unlike traditional sequestration in classic zoos of yesteryear, confinement behind heavy gates without human contact, the current trend seems to be moving more towards the creation of a private nature environment. In Pairi Daiza we have a very hands-on approach to the elephants, as they are 'touched'. Moreover, dealing with their cornacs is an additional asset in contact with the public. The elephants are taken for regular walks, a unique face. One can imagine that you really are in Thailand or India, an elephant along the way, there is as common as a tractor in our region.

In Asia 14,000 elephants are still used for work. The elephants are clearly enjoying their freedom. This decision is clearly good for everyone, in the first place of the elephants themselves, they lead a versatile and uninhibited existence, incomparable with their lives in seclusion. In particular for circus elephants, Claudy and Sandry, less so for Suzy, isolation in the habitat is a means of punishment. Every effort was made to recreate the natural environment as closely as possible, Pairi Daiza lends itself particularly well to this trial. All freedom has its limitations, however, and absolute safety requirements regarding the animals always enjoy top priority, visitors and staff. The elephants are indeed normally very docile and quiet. However, they all have their unique personalities, a change in their mood immediately arouses the attention of the caregiver. A random stool is therefore a sign of dissatisfaction. Public activities are therefore never punctual because in each case, their moods always have to be taken into account. The daily schedule is available at their caregivers, under reservation

Moreover, there are critical moments, increase the testosterone in males during the rutting season - musth - leads to increased levels of aggression. In earlier times they chained them down during this period, but they found, however, that the influence on procreation proved detrimental. Indeed, says Steffen Patzwahl, Zoological director of Pairi Daiza, the young bulls are psychologically very sensitive to a dominant experience. They have to prove themselves as real men. This constitutes a major challenge for the caregiver: he must remain absolute master of the situation while his opponent; the young bull ; continuously tests the hierarchy, every step up the ladder of hierarchy in the herd is an absolute must. The Cornac must therefore never show any sign of inferiority, because at 80 kg compared to 1500 kg man will always come second, always.

An instruction to the smallest detail, per se ! With the young bulls they do not work strictly with hands on approach, and contact is limited to protected contact. The herds in the wild never have males older than 12 years in their ranks, only single females and calves. Males of this age live alone and they approach the herd only during the rutting season. The mating process is never easy with elephants, not in a zoo. A female is fertile 3 to 4 times a year, and during one lifetime they can go through 5 to 8 pregnancies (22 months). In a closed environment these periods must therefore be used optimally. Fortunately after years of experience in zoos and circuses on the European continent certain skill have been developed in this field. To keep a close eye on the cycles of our females their urine analyses is screened weekly in a German laboratory. The birth of an elephant in a zoo is no longer an exceptional event. Being confronted with this event is still memorable, however. Elephants will always occupy a special place, as they appeals to our imagination through their sheer size, its weight, are encountered, ability and personality. He is exceptionally gifted. It suffices to see their group behaviour, human and collegial, to see them evolve despite the difficulty and complexity of the assignment, by machine is not feasible. The memory of an elephant is not legendary without reason, and even in a heard of 80 individuals, they will immediately recognise who is missing.

Their sense of solidarity within the herd is legendary, the newborns are everyone's concern. A living example of generative tradition is the precise coordination of 40,000 muscles located in the trunk, a device that is incredibly delicate and adequate for any of its movements. Not surprisingly, so that in every zoo; elephants are the most popular animals and that all zoos, in its turn, make every effort to ensure that everything is to their liking.

In Pairi Daiza, just as as elsewhere, they also fascinate the staff, to start with, Eric Domb himself. Every morning, before opening the gates he rides a bit on the back of an elephant. One of the highlights of his day. He even followed Cornac training in Thailand, a whole month long; with a real diploma awarded. He is adamant - he said, of all my diplomas, this diploma is the one that gives me the most pleasure and satisfaction.

The Asian elephant in image

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