The day was also special because it was Alex's 8th birthday, celebrated with a cake the park had prepared.
Sam was interested in hanging out with one of the mahouts and arranged a time in the morning to sit and watch him carve. As a thank you, he drew a picture of baby Navann and his mother as a gift. It amazes me that he can take two moving targets and come up with this likeness as a result. My attempt would have resulted in a stick figure elephant that more resembled a beach ball impaled by 5 toothpicks.
We were able to spend time with the veterinarian who was treating a chronic infection in one of the elephants, whose injured leg caused her to get abcesses in her cheek and shoulder from lying down. Rather than a dainty syringe, medicine is administered in huge pumping spray bottles like you'd see an exterminator use. Here, the vet has just pumped her wound full of an antibacterial liquid and is pressing on it to flush out excess medicine and pus.
The most incredible part of the two days was arming ourselves with bunches of bananas and walking around the grounds, spending time with and learning about the different family groups. Despite their difficult pasts, these creatures exude such a gentle demeanor that is captivating to witness firsthand.
Not separated by a railing...
...not standing on a wooden platform...
...and not near a building.
The sanctuary is also home to water buffalo...
...as well as hundreds of dogs who were displaced during the recent floods. A few of the dogs followed us around the property, remarkably fearless of their much larger pachyderm companions.
As soon as my winning lottery numbers are drawn, I'll be booking a weeklong volunteer experience at the Elephant Nature Park for my family and friends. I'm counting the minutes until then.