The Edmonton Valley Zoo is home to an Asian elephant named Lucy. She is now 44 years old and has been cared for by dedicated and professional staff here for the past 42 years. We get so many questions about Lucy and her care here in Edmonton. Do you want to know more about her? Here’s a quick glimpse at a day in Lucy’s life.
Yawn and stretch! Lucy usually wakes up between 7:30-8 a.m. Her zookeepers head into the elephant house at this time each day to say good morning to her and start the day. She gets light snack and her morning medication – Lucy gets a decongestant for her breathing problem and medications to help with her ageing joints.
Lucy gets weighed and then enjoys a long drink from her hose, which is her preferred way to have a drink. Depending on her mood, either the zookeepers hold the hose or sometimes Lucy will hold it herself – which sometimes leads to zookeepers getting sprayed!
Breakfast is served! Lucy gets around 30 kg (65 lbs) of hay everyday. As well, throughout the day she gets 1 kg of beet pulp and 2 kg of Mazuri-brand elephant crunchies, which are tasty pellets containing essential vitamins and minerals. As a treat, she sometimes gets one of her favourite snacks – popcorn!
The zookeepers clean the elephant house while Lucy supervises. Then, when everything is ship shape, she either gets a full bath (with animal friendly bubbles!) or a partial scrub. Post-bath, Lucy throws sand on herself (a natural sunscreen and a way to keep cool in the summer) and always rubs against the walls to help get rid of dry, flaky skin. She enjoys the scratch and it’s much more economical than an elephant-sized bottle of exfoliating scrub.
Lucy also gets regular foot baths. Her feet are soaked in Epsom salts for nutrients and in apple cider vinegar as preventative care to prevent foot infections. Foot care is very important for Lucy, and every day her zookeepers check the bottoms of her feet for embedded objects or signs of infection. We’re happy to report that thanks to the excellent care of her team, Lucy’s feet are in great condition!
It’s time to head out for her first walk of the day. Lucy walks throughout the entire zoo everyday for several hours. She goes on long walks most of the year, but takes shorter, frequent walks in the winter. She is monitored by her care team during these winter walks for signs that her extremities are getting cold.
Lucy and her team are back in the elephant house or yard for the daily elephant talk. This is a chance for Edmonton Valley Zoo visitors to learn about Lucy and her care, and about elephants in general.
It’s time to head back out for the rest of the afternoon! Lucy’s walks incorporate muscle exercises. She walks across hills and valleys to stretch all of her muscle groups, which is also part of her physiotherapy to treat her arthritis. Each afternoon, she does exercises with her care staff, which are part of a program developed by a rehabilitation therapist to help Lucy improve her range of motion and help keep her muscles toned. On her daily walks, Lucy eats a lot of grass and often gets browse (leaves, twigs, branches, and other vegetation). Her favourite type of wood is Elm. Lucy walks throughout the zoo, but mostly in the back areas where there are lots of grass, trees, and space. She walks between 3-5 km per day.
Lucy’s walk takes her to a public area of the zoo, where she and her care team are joined by an interpreter who invites the public to hear more about Lucy. During the afternoon, Lucy will sometimes spend time in her exercise tent, which is located outside of the public area of the zoo. This tent is a large, heated structure with a sandy floor – perfect for exercising, snacking, and playing games. She loves to play soccer and can kick with both her front and hind legs. Her favourite game is hide and seek. Lucy is always the seeker! She also enjoys her elephant toys, drums, and mud baths.
Lucy heads back to the elephant house, where several enrichments are waiting for her. Among them, her hay is hung up in bags in various locations, beet pulp is put in piles for her to find, and the elephant crunchies are hidden in jugs. She also enjoys some quiet time at the end of her busy day.
Her care team has another delivery of hay for her bedtime snack.
Bedtime! Lucy loves her sandy bed in the elephant house.
We love Lucy, but it’s important to take care of all elephants. Elephant conservation is vitally important to us.
Through the Valley Zoo Development Society, the Edmonton Valley Zoo supports the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), which is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the conservation of Asian and African Elephants. The IEF supports and operates elephant conservation and education programs, emphasizing management, protection, and scientific research. In the past 20 years, IEF has provided support to more than 120 elephant conservation projects worldwide.
What can you do to help?
- Don’t buy products made from endangered species, including ivory.
- Buy paper products from sustainable sources (FSC)
- Purchase elephant poo paper! This paper is made sustainably from high fibre elephant poop and sold to support elephant habitat conservation projects.
- Contribute to wildlife organizations that study elephants and protect their habitat.
- Write letters that influence decision-makers about elephant conservation.
- Check out the important work of 96 Elephants at 96elephants.org