Here at Millennium Elephant Foundation we want our elephants to have the best life possible. The Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project (AEACP) agree and after their visit to train Lakshmi and Rani to paint they felt that the money that they raise from selling our elephants paintings should go towards an enclosure for them. We were delighted with this plan and have been working on a design. An enclosure means that the elephants can socialise and lead more natural lifestyles and that they do not need to be kept on chains unless they are meeting tourists.
It will also be an important and leading step towards improving the lives of elephants everywhere as the enclosure will provide a model that can be emulated to mitigate human-elephant conflicts in the really intense areas and that can be emulated to increase the well being of other captive elephants.
We have been liasing with staff from the Sri Lankan Wildlife and Conservation Society (SLWCS), keepers at Melbourne Zoo, AEACP and our own staff at MEF to come up with a design that is best for our elephants and mahouts and to the standard required by Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) . There have been many discussions regarding placement of gates, river access, the materials for construction and how visitors can still interact with these amazing animals.
Here is a basic map showing MEF as it is now and before the enclosure.
Below is a map showing the new enclosure in red.
This design means that the elephants will have approximately 325100 feet to roam around. They will have 24 hour access to the river but gates mean that should conflict arise or there is any danger of flooding we can keep the elephants a safe distance away from danger. We will include smooth corners, we have a mixed herd of boys and girls, male elephants do not usually socialise with anyone so should an elephant become boisterous they will not be able to corner and cause harm to another elephant.
We will also have Musth pens. Male elephants go through a period of time called ‘Musth’. During this time they have a rush of testosterone and become very aggressive. To prevent them harming themselves or another elephant they will be confined in these pens. The size of the pens has been carefully considered as while we want the males to be able to move around we do not want the pens so big as they can charge and hurt themselves.
With their new social life there may one day be a need for ‘nursing pens’. A musth pen will be converted for a new mother and baby to protect the little one and give the pair time to bond.
The fence will be constructed with steel and concrete and one hot wire. Once we have this strong fence in place we will be able to really develop our enrichment program. In preparation for the fence we have already begun getting the elephants more used to each others company and everyday they spend some time together and the volunteers are working on new challenges and games for them!
It will take everyone a while to get used to the new way of life here and when new elephants come to stay they will have to be introduced slowly but we are all very excited to see how the elephants develop and see if and how quickly they interact as a wild herd might.
We hope you are as excited as we are to see this project develop. It is hoped that other homes of captive elephants will follow our lead in providing the very best care for elephants everywhere as we build the first elephant proof permanent fence in Sri Lanka and probably in the rest of the Asian elephant range states, we hope that veterinary findings will back up the already reduced stress levels that we are witnessing in the elephants behaviours.
We cannot do this alone however and really need your help, please donate any amount you can to this important project.
January 2012 – UPDATE!
The quote is in!
The total cost for the enclosure is going to be approximately $70 000.00 This is a huge amount so we really need your support! Please send us any donations that you can!
Perhaps you would like to sponsor a gate for $250
Or a bolt for $5
Anything that you can donate will help!
Direct debit to: Commercial Bank of Ceylon LTD A/C No: 1210008801 Swift code : CCEYLKLX
by cheque payable to: “The Millennium Elephant Foundation”
Or use Paypal using this link;
www.elephantart.com Please send an e-mail stating that this money is for MEF.
Thank you. together we can improve the lives of elephants everywhere!
March 2012 Update!
So far from the donation pot in the museum alone we have raised over $1000! The Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS) have come out and mapped the perimeter using their very fancy GPS mapping system (we may have added some space too!).
Here are some pictures of the GPS map and measurements being taken, its very exciting, even Rani helped!
Please keep the donations and support coming in!