3-23-09 Sandy Rakowitz
In early March, I was with Linda Tellington-Jones, a group of TTouch Practitioners, Mind Mirror, Heart Math, and EEG experts who gathered at the Oakland Zoo in early March for a collaborative meeting. Our primary reason for meeting was to Measure Linda’s Brainwaves while she was doing TTouch with Tiki, a 20 year old Giraffe. We had several other fun projects that we explored while visiting. I will continue sharing more about the Giraffes, Tiki and our work with Linda in future posts.
One of the many special treats that we experienced, was a behind the scenes peek with the Elephants. First, we were lead through the public Elephant viewing area.
And then through gates restricted to the public.
We continued past the snoozing Zebras.
And then we were in a private and spacious covered area with a large elephant sized paddock and covered barn. For many of us, we were behind the scenes at the Zoo for the first time as special guests to watch Linda do some of her TTouch magic with an Elephant. Life just kept getting better each moment of this trip!
I had never watched an Elephant close up before. It was so cool to watch this 15 year old Elephant Bull take treats with his trunk, and place it in his mouth to chew.
I could see the Elephant’s head, eye and trunk as he watched our group, the trainer who was giving him treats near his head, and Linda with another trainer behind him. We were close, but still behind a protected area. He patiently raised his back left foot and rested it on the enclosure gate while Linda used various TTouches on the bottom of his foot. I watched Linda work, and gradually, this guy’s trunk went limp with relaxation. I was mesmerized. We were told that this Elephant can get pretty excited at times. I know that when I receive TTouch, I get super relaxed, and I watch horses, cats and dogs relaxed all the time. But watching this ENORMOUS Elephant who is clearly NOT a domestic animal relax so visibly just made me smile with delight.
You could tell he wanted to reach for that food so badly with his trunk. Yet, he would pause while his trunk went slack for increasingly long time periods. That trunk must have gotten so heavy for him to lift!
After the session one of the primary Elephant keepers brought him outside into a ‘play yard’ where he had plenty of toys and food. We found out that this Elephant bull eats 200 pounds of food a day!
We watched as he happily munched on a very large tree branch. Not the leaves mind you, but the actual wood! Evidently Elephants have many sharp teeth! Crunching away, he finished off this branch within minutes. Can you see the branch sticking up above his tusk?
After his tree snack, he lumbered over to a pile of hay. Using his trunk to grab large piles of hay, he stuffed his mouth. As a horse person who has spent a life time watching horses quietly munch small handfuls of hay at a time, it was rather startling and amusing to watch this elephant grab large armfuls of hay at a time! I was grateful that I was not the one supplying and paying for his hay! He strolled around a bit more and then came to visit the keeper with our group as audience.
Colleen, who has been with the Zoo for 20 years, showed us some of the Target Training she has done with this Elephant! Some of his ‘moves’ included Lifting his foot to touch the ‘target;’ Moving his WHOLE body to parallel along the side of the enclosure showing excellent parking skills!; Touching the side of his face near his eye to touch the target; Lifting his foot to touch the Target. He then greeted her by gently reaching his trunk to her. Lightly, he rested his trunk in her hand. The gesture was so beautiful and tender.
What do you think of these pics? Isn’t he magnificent?
Thanks for coming to read and look at the pictures. Keep on coming back as I have additional stories and pictures to share.
All photos by Sandy Rakowitz. Please use with full photo and text credits.