The African elephants

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After informing our friends, colleagues and family, we went on to “create” Elephant Haven.
Of course, we both were still working as full time zookeepers at the zoo.
I always worked with Asian elephants so experience was needed with African elephants, since Elephant Haven will welcome both species.
We keep in contact with other people who have experience with them in captivity and the wild. We can learn so much from each other.
We asked a good friend whom we respect a lot, Con Mul (head elephant keeper in Rhenen Zoo, The Netherlands), if we could come over some days to learn about the African elephants. And so, in May 2012, we went on our free days to the Rhenen Zoo. Besides being the head keeper, Con Mul also has his own business, “Elephantcare”.

This is the website:

I met Con Mul a long time ago at the Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands, and was impressed by how relaxed he was with the elephants. We had a good connection from the very beginning.
After some coffee we went to the elephant barn. There were 5 elephants, one bull and four cows.
Wow, what a difference!
First of all, their looks are different. For example, Asian elephants have 5 nails on each front foot and 4 on each back foot, while the Africans have 4 on the front and 3 on the back foot.
Also their skin is more wrinkled than their Asian cousins’.
The trunk has only 1 finger with the Asian elephants while the Africans have 2 fingers, making them a bit more agile with their trunk. And what big ears they have! When they are standing in front of you and they open their huge ears it becomes dark in front of you!
But their outward appearance is not their most impressive difference; it is in fact the way they behave!
The Asian are more relaxed and Africans are more ”in your face”! It is like that they sometimes can explode very fast. I never experienced that with Asian elephants. DCIM100SPORT
What a good experience we had with the African elephants. It was totally different from the one we had with the Asian elephants although they are both kept in a protected contact system, but I will tell you more about the different working systems with elephants later.

We said goodbye after those few days to Con and his elephants and went back to Belgium… There was a sanctuary to be created!


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