Happy birthday Duchess!
Published: Apr 6, 2018Friday 6th April marks the 48th birthday of our female African elephant, Duchess.
Duchess came to Paignton Zoo in 1977 from Longleat Safari Park and is one of the Zoo’s most loved residents.
These days she doesn’t see very well, but her keepers are extremely dedicated, some of them have worked with Duchess for over 25 years! There are also volunteers, students and all of the visitors who love to see her as well as the giraffes next door, so Duchess is in a good place, with good company and well cared for.
Duchess is a big elephant with a big personality. With the intelligence of a 2 year old child, Duchess loves to play games and be the centre of attention. She likes to throw her weight around to get the keepers’ attention, then rumbles happily when they come to see what the fuss is – it’s all part of a game to her!
Duchess enjoys regular training sessions and enrichment. She particularly enjoys watermelon and grazer pellet and her favourite enrichment activities always include food. Duchess also likes her keepers to hose water directly into her trunk to drink.
Duchess generally hates water (including the rain) – keepers used to hose her down and despite it being warm water, she still hated it! She can spray herself with water from the trough if she wants and also has access to dust baths and a mud wallow, but she only uses them in really hot weather. This makes her skin look dry and wrinkly but it’s not unhealthy. Strangely, she likes wet sand, though...
To find out more about Duchess, come along to the Elephant House at 2pm for our daily talk ‘Duchess: an elephant’s diary’.
Did you know?
- African elephants are the world’s largest land animals
- African elephants can live for up to 60-70 years, making Duchess pretty much a senior citizen by human standards.
- The African elephant’s scientific name is Loxodonta Africana
- Elephants are herbivores, often eating shoots, twigs, roots, grasses, fruit and bark
- Elephants are social animals and in the wild, they live in herds made up of females and young
- Elephants use their tusks as tools, helping them to dig for food and water as well as stripping bark from trees
- The African elephant’s conservation status is Vulnerable – making them at high risk of extinction in the wild
- An elephant’s trunk is actually a long nose. It can be used for smelling, breathing, drinking, grabbing things and trumpeting.
- An African elephant’s trunk contains about 100,000 different muscles
- An elephant’s ears radiate heat, helping to keep them cool
- Elephants have a longer pregnancy than any other mammal at almost 22 months