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The wellness benefits of mud

With the end of a nice, cool spring comes the beginning of summer and elephant mud baths – lots of them. Living in Georgia, the elephants at Zoo Atlanta, Kelly and Tara, are lucky enough to have a substrate that is perfect for making the muddiest of mud wallows. Our famous red Georgia clay is the elephants’ favorite mud to throw on their backs after a long afternoon nap. Watching Kelly and Tara cover themselves in mud is a lot of fun – and can be quite messy for unsuspecting onlookers – but the mud has some important roles to play in the elephants’ lives and wellness.

Since elephants only sweat between their toes, they need to cool down the rest of their bodies in the summertime. The mud acts as that coolant, but it also acts as a sunscreen, as well as repels flies and mosquitoes. The thick, red clay is also the reason Zoo Atlanta is home to “red” elephants. That clay has tinted the elephants’ skin that reddish color they’re so famous for, and it doesn’t matter how much mud gets rinsed off – their skin stays red. As Kelly and Tara are using different areas of the elephant complex during renovations of their habitat, the Elephant Care Team has built them a new mud wallow in an outdoor area adjacent to their current indoor area. You can often find one of the elephants covering herself in mud in the early afternoon, and if you stand in the right spot, you could even get a little muddy too.
Catie A.
Keeper I, Elephants

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