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So far this year, the weather has been a little unpredictable here in Northern Thailand. With hot spells during the day followed by cold nights with temperatures as low at 6°C, all of our animals, volunteers and staff have been fighting the cold. With the use of fires, blankets and jackets generously donated to us by our supporters and volunteers, our animals have been keeping warm. The mahouts have been tending to the fires for the elephants to make sure that they stay warm throughout the night, especially our older ladies who are feeling the cold.
Due to their size, many people underestimate an elephant’s ability to feel the cold. In actual fact, when the temperatures drop you can see elephants physically shivering. Although their skin is thick, it is incredibly sensitive meaning that some captive elephants need to wear an extra layer to ensure they keep their body temperatures up.
For the older elephants and those who are still relatively skinny, the cold can bring with it a lot of issues regarding an their health. Recently, due to the cold temperatures, many elephants did not want to drink water and became dehydrated. Noi Na, one of our older ladies lost her appetite and would not eat anything she was offered. Normally when it comes to watermelon and rice balls Noi Na enjoys her special treats, but due to the cold weather, she did not want to eat a thing causing concern to all of us here at Elephant Nature Park. As she stayed close to her shelter with her blanket wrap around her to stay warm, she didn’t want to go far, even though the presence of the other elephants unsettled her. At an elderly age, Noi Na requires shredded food, steamed pumpkin balls as well as her baskets of fruit to help her gain weight. All of which she showed little interest in.
Thankfully over this past week, the temperature has began to rise and Noi Na has returned to her normal self and enjoying is her food once again in her normal area in the jungle or down by the river. She is now happily tearing the leaves off of her corn stalks and eating her baskets of shredded grass without a fuss.
With the cold weather lingering and reports of another cold front heading towards Chiang Mai we are staying stocked up on firewood and jackets to be sure that all the animals here at the park are kept warm against the bitter chill of the night air.