Summer’s almost over …
We’re all pretty done with summer over here, except for the naked mole rats, of course; if it’s not hot, they’ll have to cuddle for warmth. The elephants cover themselves in mud or dust and receive frequent baths. The meerkats have an air-conditioned area, which is a bonus for us when we do meerkat training.
It’s not the heat or humidity that bothers us the most in the summer, so much as the biting insects. Every year we run afoul of mosquitos, hornets and horseflies. While we use generous applications of bug spray, the elephants have natural adaptations and behaviors to help keep bugs at bay. In addition to their very thick skin, they use their tails and trunks to swat away insects. While elephants cover themselves in mud for multiple reasons, mud also acts as a natural insect repellent.
That’s not to say that we don’t love our job. Seasonal bites are a worthy sacrifice for the rewarding work we get to do for the animals.
And that’s the news from the Elephant Team, where the people are filthy but our intentions are pure.
Keeper II, Mammals