Asian elephants at Woburn Safari Park have, during the past 20 years, enjoyed their own specialised catering service in the form of tons of tree cuttings each month.
Alongside the dedicated care they receive from their keepers, local gardeners Carole and Robert have been loyally donating a whole array of branches and leaves for the elephant herd… with no intention of stopping just yet either.
In agreement with the Safari Park, Carole and Robert bring in a variety of leaves, which keepers refer to as ‘browse’, including plenty of the elephants’ favourite - willow and silver birch. The couple brings, on average, a ton of tree cuttings each month, and with 20 years of deliveries, keepers estimate the elephants have munched through a grand total of more than 240 tons. A total amount consumed that is equivalent to more than 12 times the elephants’ current combined body weight.
Elephants will naturally spend more than 80% of their day eating and consume a wide range of grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, bark, and roots. The constant rotation of foods that keepers give to Woburn’s elephants, including the browse supplied by Carole and Robert, helps to ensure they’re fed a natural and varied diet.
All of the browse that the generous pair brings with them would have otherwise been burned or chipped, so this arrangement means leftover cuttings go to far better use.
In the many years that Carole and Robert have been coming to Woburn Safari Park they've seen a lot of changes. They’ve witnessed the building of the current state of the art elephant house, and perhaps most excitingly they’ve also had the opportunity to watch juvenile elephant Tarli grow up over the past seven years.
The couple have also experienced some truly unforgettable moments, including being able to watch as keepers complete the elephants’ daily foot care routines; part of their regular routine health checks, being able to take part in washing the elephants, and going for a walk through the Woburn estate with the females of the herd.