A few months ago, my wife participated in a silent auction for “Bathtime with the Elephants” at the Calgary Zoo. She bid successfully, and yesterday, with four friends, we went and enjoyed the experience of “Bathtime with the Elephants.”
Bathtime with the Elephants is pretty much self-explanatory; you go to the Calgary Zoo, meet some volunteers and then head back behind the scenes for an intimite session where you get to give the elephants their daily bath.
This was an amazing experience. The elephant our “team” was given to bathe was named Kamala, which is Sri Lankan for “Lotus Flower”. Kamala is about 30 years old and is the “matriarch” of the elephant family at the Calgary Zoo. She knows exactly what is expected of her, and has a ball with the experience.
The first step of the bathing process is to hose the elephants down with warm water coming from a firehose. This is an immense playtime for the elephants who spend their time opening their mouthes drinking the water, and turning around and around so they can shower every inch of their bodies.
Next, the elephants come out of their cage into a more open area and lie down on their sides. We then got to swarm the elephant with scrubbing brushes and soapy water. The look in Kamala’s eye said it all: absolute ecstasy. After a few minutes, I decided it was time to take some photographs. I headed over in front of her and started aiming my camera. The look in Kamala’s eye went to mischievous, and I noted that her eye swiveled to look to see where the keeper was standing. When she was satisfied that he wasn’t looking, out snaked her trunk and she sniffed my shoe with it.
Her trunk then got a little more… erm… naughty.
I strategically stepped back out of reach.
The keeper then came over and the quickly curled her trunk back up underneath and looked innocent, as if to say, “me? ME?? I wasn’t doing anything!”
Clearly, Kamala’s one intelligent, crafty animal.
After the scrub-a-dub-dub session, the elephants were led to a swimming pool of sorts where they had a good splash and play in the water session. We all fed them peanuts (yes, Elephants do, in fact, like peanuts.) and we were done for the day.
With that said, yes, I can give you all a personal guarantee that at the Calgary Zoo, the elephants are, in fact, clean.
I cleaned one myself.