Home Elephant Conservation Center
Sayaboury, Laos
  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...

18-second video
23-second video

...and on the way to bathing 

30-second video
 9-second video

An integral part of the operation is the hospital 

with its purpose-built treatment dock 

where Anabel prepares to...

...scrub, and....

...check those molars 
One of the most fascinating parts of the conservation center is the enrichment area.

Because these elephants were not raised in the wild, they need to be trained to forage for food.

Here's Ken, 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

Note the 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 down

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 well 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)

39-second video

and find the food stuffed in the white can

29-second video

and in the blue barrel

21-second video

then wander away to search other spots

13-second video

the wooden box is particularly frustrating for them

35-second video
  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 between them
If you don't want to watch the whole 7-minute video, you can skip around:

Two tires
0:0 to 3:18
4:40 to 5:17
6:14 to 6:48

One tire
3:26 to 4:06
5:23 to 6:14
6:56 to 7:32

7 minutes, 32 seconds video
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