Tag Archives: elephants

Avoiding Animal Heat Stress

On Earth Day, Sambo, an approximately 40–45 year old elephant, dropped dead from heart failure and extreme heat exhaustion after walking for 40 minutes in 40° Celsius weather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The irony of an elephant dying on Earth Day surely didn’t escape many. It’s a sad event to see that an elephant has been overworked in such intense heat without anyone caring for its physiological needs. One of the questions that begs to be answered then is: How can we avoid animal heat stress?

sambo the elephant

Sambo was only one of the many elephants used as a tourist attraction in Cambodia. She had been working for Angkor Elephant Company since 2001, part of a couple of elephants made to bring tourists to the popular Cambodian temple complex, Angkor Wat. [Image: www.dankoehl.blogspot.com/]

During summer, animals experience heat stress. As temperatures rise, medical risks, such as heat stroke and heart attack, are common symptoms of heat stress for animals. Below are some tips to help keep animals well-cared for in the summer.

Provide easy access to water and shade.

dog tub

This dog is spending his summer in the best way possible: Chilling in his very own pool with other “friends.” [Image: www.opensecretsdc.tumblr.com/]

Summers can be brutal—they can make one dehydrated if there isn’t enough water ready to replenish the system. Shade is also another vital companion to prevent constant exposure to extreme heat, making both water and shade critical aspects of properly caring for animals.

Handle only when the time is right.

playful cat

“But what do you mean I can’t go outside and play? I want to!” [Image: www.wallpaperswide.com/]

It is highly recommended that all handling activities—this includes training animals—be postponed to dates or changed to times when the heat isn’t as intense. The reason for this is that some animals have less of a tolerance to heat than others, and any movement under such high temperatures outside can easily increase the animals’ internal body temperature.

Know heat stroke indications.

grizzly bear bathing

A grizzly bear luxuriously bathing in a creek. [Image: www.grizzlybearblog.wordpress.com/]

Fortunately, heat stroke has a few key identifiable factors. Here are a few:

  • High body temperature (above 104° F/40° C)
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Alteration in sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing

Animals are vulnerable to heat stress and heat stroke, so it is important to be able to identify key signs of behavior and physiological symptoms in order to take care of them properly.

This summer, there’s no need to put your animals in danger. And as always, with the help of your Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, you can go out and have some unforgettable adventures together! Make the sun a friend and not a nemesis.

Endangered Species: An In-Depth Look at Elephants

Elephants mean different things to various cultures, ranging from being seen as simply a gorgeous animal that lives in your country to a revered god-like symbol to a token of good luck. Unfortunately they are also often idolized for their thick, leathery hides and gorgeous ivory tusks, which has led them to be listed as an endangered species.

Differences between Asian and African elephants.

The difference between Asian and African elephants. [Image: http://www.thomsonsafaris.com/]

African elephants are the largest mammals walking the Earth today, growing up to 11-feet tall, between 19 and 24 feet long, and weighing usually around six tons. There are two types of African elephants, the Savanna (bush) elephant and the forest elephant. Savanna elephants are the larger of the two and have tusks that curve outward, while forest elephants are smaller, darker, and have straighter tusks that point downward. Asian elephants, on the other hand, are very different from African elephants. They are noticeably smaller and their ears don’t fan out at the bottom like an African elephant. And while all African elephants, male or female, have tusks, only some male Asian elephants do.

Elephants are social creatures, living in herds made up of mostly females and calves while the males opt for isolation, usually leaving the herd at around 13 years old. The calves live with their mothers for a large portion of their early lives and are cared for by many of the other females in their herd. The females have the longest gestation period of any animal, lasting 22 months from conception. Throughout those 22 months, other females help the laboring mothers up until birth, acting as midwives to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly. Calves weigh about 230 pounds when they’re born, and the females don’t usually have more than four babies.

Adult elephants with a baby.

“Hey, I want to hug, too!” [Image: http://www.buzzfeed.com/]

They’re also incredibly sensitive animals. They have been known to express grief and sometimes cry, like in this heartbreaking video of a baby elephant crying after being rejected by its mother; show compassion, such as having a “greeting ceremony” for elephants they haven’t seen in awhile where they’ll “hug” by intertwining their trunks; and they also mourn the loss of fellow herd members. It’s true what they say—elephants have excellent memories, which is apparent in their varying emotional responses.

Elephants mourning.

When elephants come across the remains of a herd member, they’ll feel the crevices of each bone. [Image: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/]

These large creatures are also very resourceful. Although they’re the only mammal that can’t jump, they’re fantastic swimmers and can move swiftly and quietly, despite their enormity, due to soft pads protecting the bottoms of their feet. Their bodies have natural cooling methods as well, and they can sustain hot temperatures due to the many blood vessels coursing through their ears. On top of all this, elephants also use their tusks for many things, such as digging for water, finding food, defense, and lifting items. Similar to how humans are often left-or right-handed, elephants prefer using one tusk over the other.

Aside from utilizing their physical features in everyday life, both on a conscious and subconscious level, they’re also quite connected to their environment through the use of their senses. Their eyesight isn’t very strong, but their other senses make up for that. They have hearing capabilities that go far beyond a human’s limitations, opening them up to spatial experiences that we can’t quite begin to process. And they don’t just hear from their ears—elephants are able to pick up on sub-sonic sounds through their feet and can be found “listening” by pressing their trunks to the ground and positioning their feet in a certain way. Their trunks are also very fascinating and useful beyond its physical potentiality. Made up of more than 40,000 muscles, trunks can help elephants smell better, especially when waved from side to side, and can also help the creatures sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object.

Elephants hugging trunks.

Now don’t you wish you could get a hug from an elephant? [Image: https://www.pinterest.com/]

Although elephants don’t have any natural predators (aside from lions that sometimes prey on the weak or young), humans have led this amazing creature to become endangered. Asian elephants have been listed as endangered since 1975 and African elephants since 1989. Much of their population decline comes from poaching to support illegal ivory trading. Ivory trading was made illegal in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but there is still an unregulated market demanding it. Additionally, loss of habitat is also negatively affecting elephant populations. As humans expand further into their environments and practices like commercial logging continue, elephants end up on the losing side of the battle for more space.

Elephants.

Such a happy little family. [Image: https://iso.500px.com/]

Maintaining the areas that we visit and leaving the wildlife alone are the best ways we can help elephants and many other endangered species continue to thrive. Often we’ll see others partaking in experiences with these amazing creatures, such as viewing them in contained settings or riding on them—this is not the capacity that they were meant for, however, and we should do our best to let them live naturally. Wildlife viewing is an enjoyable part of any outdoor experience, and you can partake in it by using our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to explore parks that have diverse wildlife populations. And remember: The best approach when interacting with wildlife is to look and not touch.

Top 5 Therapy Animals

Animals have a lot of uses in the daily lives of many people around the world, from nutrition to domesticated pets, in addition to their own roles in their respective ecosystems. More recently, some animals have been utilized and recognized for the positive therapeutic impact they have on different demographics, including young patients with autism, cerebral palsy, severe physical disabilities, and elderly patients suffering from physical ailments plus depression and loneliness. Here are the top 5 therapy animals:

1. Horses

Przewalski horse at The Wilds in Ohio.

[Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Horses are especially recommended by therapists for people with disabilities because of the wide range of positive benefits from horseback riding. For instance, depending on the disability and personality of the patient, horseback riding may benefit the patient socially, or build core strength and  muscle memory. Therapists have noted the psychotherapeutic benefits of horseback riding among at-risk youth and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, making both groups of patients less aggressive and prone to suicidal thoughts.

2. Alpacas

English: Two young male Suri alpacas

[Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Alpacas are popular for their cute appearance, gentle, and sociable personalities. Those same qualities make them an asset in hospitals. In one Oregon children’s hospital, for instance, an alpaca (as well as the closely-related llama) have been effective in improving patients’ moods and health. However, the benefits of interacting with alpacas is not limited to children, but also includes patients in long-term and assisted-living communities, and physical rehabilitation centers.

3. Dogs

English: Golden Retriever dog (canis lupus fam...

[Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Dogs have long been used for medical purposes and in actual medical facilities. In some cases, retired guide dogs have stayed in the same facilities as child patients undergoing experimental therapies. Interacting with the therapy dogs, such as petting, walking, feeding, and grooming them, has been ineffective in lifting the spirits and speeding the recovery processes and motivations of patients.

4. Elephants

Elephant from Kruger Park, South Africa. Deuts...

[Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Though not used as commonly as dogs and horses in the United States for animal assisted therapy, elephants are nonetheless a popular choice in places such as Thailand, South Africa, and Jerusalem. Elephants have been used for young patients with cerebral palsy, people with autism, and more recently, as one aspect of drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Thailand. The fundamentally non-aggressive personalities and sheer exoticism of elephants tend to fascinate and motivate patients.

5. Rabbits

Rabbits DSC00372

[Image: www.wikipedia.com]

Rabbits are sometimes a realistic alternative to therapy dogs or cats simply because of their comparatively smaller size and fewer requisite responsibilities. Patients who have interacted with therapy rabbits have reportedly become more adept at building relationships and cooperating with others, and autistic child patients have improved their ability to understand physical limitations and interpret social cues.

Interested in having your own unique experience with wildlife in the great outdoors? Download our Pocket Ranger® apps to find the best places to experience nature.