Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Clicker Training for Elephants

I love elephants, I always have. Therefore I think it is really neat that middle Tennessee happens to be home to The Elephant Sanctuary. The Elephant Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that takes in old, sick or needy elephants. Typically these elephants are being retired from zoos and circuses. Their facility is located on 2,700 acres of land.

The sanctuary is not open to the public as their main goal is to allow the elephants to bond with their groups and just be elephants. Many of these elephants spent enough time being stared at during their tenures with zoos and circuses.

In some ways I feel like we are kindred spirits with the Sanctuary. The sanctuary has beautiful facilities to care for the elephants while at the same time doing their best to let the animals live as natural a lifestyle as possible in a non-natural setting. Of course there are differences, with a big one being the horses retired with us are not needy and have loving owners willing to provide for them.

I follow the Sanctuary on Facebook and about three weeks ago they posted a video where the leg chain was removed from Billie, one of the residents. Billie has been at the sanctuary for five years and remained so traumatized by her lifetime of harsh handling that they had never been able to remove her leg chain.

It looks like they finally got her chain off through the use of clicker training! I've used clicker training with the horses from time to time when there has been a tough issue to deal with, such as my horse's needle phobia. Obviously clicker training is used with many species and I thought it was fun to watch the video of Billie's chain being removed while hearing the clicks in the background. In the video description posted by the Elephant Sanctuary it said the targets they were using to direct Billie's foot were bamboo sticks with cotton tops.

I just had to share this story that combined two things of such interest to me, elephants and clicker training!

video of Billie's leg chain finally being removed

You certainly feel the love when you see these eager faces watching you at meal time. Asterik, George and Romeo

Tiny, Rampal and Johnny

Lily and Cuff Links

Lightening, Lucky, Spike and Noble

Noble, Regis, Thor, Lucky, O'Reilly, Spike



Thomas, Tony, Hemi, Baby

Apollo, Elfin, Grand


Kennedy and Toledo


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Elephants are amazing :)

I remember hearing a story about an elephant that came to that sanctuary, who turned out to have known another resident elephant in their previous circus lives... many years ago.

The two elephants recognized each other after all that time. Their emotional reunion was the most moving video - it absolutely tore me up.

East Bound said...

i started to cry when Billie picked up the chain. such a happy moment! thanks for sharing!

Vivian, Apollo's Mom said...

I just LOVE elephants as well! I did not know the sanctuary was in Tennessee although I did know there was one somewhere. What a touching story and emotional video. Thank you for posting it. As a matter of fact, we had at times referred to Apollo as a "rogue elephant" when he was up in the cooler weather and galloping through the fields!

RebelRoX87 said...

Awwwww:) That was really cute!!! He was so happy to have his chain off it looked like!

Gryph said...

Dulary the elephant is from our hometown zoo. I remember seeing her as I was growing up, on trips to the zoo. Gryph unfortunately moved here after she left.

The Philadelphia Zoo's old Pachyderm House is going to become its new Children's Center and a breeding facility for rare and endangered livestock breeds. :)