You would think an animal weighing more than 8,000 pounds wouldn’t be afraid of many things. But Belle the African elephant showed keepers she can still be startled by small things.
During a recent training session with Belle, a baby peafowl jumped around the demonstration yard. Belle ran away from the peachick and even tried to throw a stick at it to keep it away. Keepers were able to get the peachick out of the yard and back with her mom. Elephant care coordinator Erin Dowgwillo says she has not noticed if Belle is also bothered by adult peafowl. “I think sometimes it depends on what they are doing when they see it. It might have just startled her while in the training session,” explains Dowgwillo. “Each elephant has its own personality, and that means that some things are more startling than others.” Brittany and Ruth have also been known to be startled by animals that make their way into the exhibit.
Herd update: During introductions with Belle it appears that Belle will be the herd’s dominant elephant. However, Brittany will still be dominant over Ruth. One of the signs Dowgwillo witnessed is Brittany allowing Belle to place her trunk in Brittany’s mouth. This is a sign of subordination and a positive sign of their relationship progressing. You can expect to see the three elephants together the next time you visit the Zoo.