After a 2 1/2 hour ride from Luang Prabang I arrive at a lake that we had
to cross on a small ferry to reach the Elephant Conservation Center
Approaching the Center's grounds
We dock, and climb the path...
...to our cabins
and shortly we're introduced to Ken,
our guide for the next couple of days...
....and to the rest of the group with whom I'll spend the next
couple of days
Soon we're off to watch the elephants eating...
...and on the way to bathing
An integral part of the operation is the hospital
with its purpose-built treatment dock
where Anabel prepares to...
...check those molars
One of the most fascinating parts of the conservation center is the
Because these elephants were not raised in the
wild, they need to be trained to forage for food.
carting some food for us to hide
The enrichment area is set up with numerous places to hide
food--in tires on the ground, in a box attached to a tree
wooden box attached to the tree at center
The front cover slides up
to open, and is attached to a rope that loops over a branch and hangs
The elephant tugs on the rope to open the door
Then--while the door
is still open--food must
be accessed with the trunk.
Very difficult to coordinate!
Food is also placed in other containers mounted on trees,
and under logs,
and in a barrel with holes, suspended from a cable
as other spots in the enrichment area
Then we retreated to the viewing platform
to await the arrival of the elephants
They come, and start nosing around (literally)
and find the food stuffed in the white can
and in the blue barrel
then wander away to search other spots
the wooden box is particularly frustrating for them
The final video is lengthy, and presented merely to show the patience,
perseverence, and frustration involved in multiple tries (modestly successful) of puzzling out how to access the food hidden in the tires
Shown are two elephants: one trying to access the food in the
bottom of two tires; the other the food in one tire
The video pans
If you don't want to watch the whole 7-minute video, you can skip around: