Volunteer Updates, Spring 2012
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Banana Treasure Hunt

Had such a wonderful enrichment afternoon with the elephants today. We decided for a bit of fun, to hide bananas all over one of the trees and let the elephants come out to play and try to find them. We thought it may keep them busy for a few minutes, but it actually turned out to be more of a challenge for them than we thought. They really had to think about it, which is the point of enrichment, to exercise them mentally as well as physically. After a good 10 minutes of trying to find all of the tasty bananas, each of the elephants had had some great trunk exercise and some yummy treats.

Bandara final gave up trying to search for them and thought it easier to just tear down one of the branches! Not exactly the point Bandara, but as long as you had some fun!

volunteer at Millennium Elephant Foundation Sri Lanka hiding bananas for the elephants to find
A volunteer hiding bananas!
Bandara the elephant at Millennium Elephant Foundation Sri Lanka looks for food
Bandara cheating!

 

Harmony of Elephants Mural

Peace and Hello elephant loving community! This is Leiah Rasmussen reporting on my most recently completed project, the harmony of elephants mural. It was difficult at first sketching the elephant shapes and flower pedals, but once I started painting the rest came naturally.

I feel the urge to add more to the piece but I know if I do the details could be asthetically overbearing.  I hope this piece interests and invites tourist’s curiosity and brings harmony amongst the mahouts, volunteers, employees, and of course elephants.

Harmony of elephants mural painted by a volunteer at Millennium Elephant Foundation Sri Lanka

Target Training

This week we have started target training. We are working with the mahouts to encourage them to command their elephants from a distance, building upon the already strong bond between a mahout and his elephant.

We went to the local market and bought sticks of the elephants favourite treats, sugarcane! The training is reward based, treating the elephants to sugarcane each time they listen and act upon commands. It is good for the elephants to practise such tasks, as it exercises them mentally and physically.

The mahouts have to be on board for such training to work. The past few days have been brilliant. They are really enjoying it, especially the attention and I think they are secretly competing with each other. They have demonstrated the strengths of their bond and the cooperation they can achieve from their loyal friends. It is really exciting to watch this training, and it is so nice to see the depths of their relationships.

Elephants target training at Millennium Elephant Foundation Sri Lanka

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