First stop on our roadtrip was Chitwan, where we had visited last year over Christmas. We stayed a second time at the charming Sapana Lodge and met again with the “pregnant elephant” who now was mum to a three month old calf. He was adorable! We went over to pet him and he was hungry for attention. He sucked my silk shirt up his nose and wrapped his trunk around my legs. He was so wonderfully goofy and eager….just a really, really big baby. It did bring the expression “charging around like a baby elephant” into new perspective. It was so funny to watch something so powerful be so clumsy.
It was so much fun to reach out and touch him. He wanted to interact as much as me
Susie playing with the elephant and some local kids
The keeper fed his mum some sugarcane, and he tried but just couldn’t coordinate stuffing the sticks into his mouth. They were just too big and he was too uncoordinated, but his mum loved them! Talk about a sugar high!
This is mum, after feasting on about 12 sticks of sugar cane. Look at that face! Bliss!
Around midday the keeper would take them both down to the river for a bath. And the little elephant swum around his mother, hiding under her belly and diving underwater to snorkel. Nearby the local Tharu kids were playing football and tossed the ball for the baby elephant to catch, but he was far more interested in the water and for us it was so much fun to watch elephant bath time!
Taking a bath with mom
In the afternoon, the elephants were taken out to a fenced enclosure by the river where they grazed and hung out. The local kids took their soccer game out of the water when it got a little cooler and ran over to us asking for their picture to be taken. We went over to see the baby again, and he came running over to a gap in the fence, straight to my outstretched hand. He wanted to play and out he came! I guess baby elephants play with one another head-to-head and tousle with their trunks. He tried that with me and very nearly knocked me over! He sneezed on Susie’s clean white shorts, which were now covered in sooty elephant snot. (We think he’d been nosing around in one of the fire pits.) Then he got really frisky and tried to play-charge me. I turned around to try and use my back weight to stop me from falling over. I was laughing but also a little afraid that he trample me as he charged at my butt and pushed me around like a steam engine. Susie was laughing but also a little cautious, so getting this on camera was not an option. But we did manage to get some pictures of the kids playing with him:
This little guy used a different technique to me. When the baby elephant wanted to play and started pushing….he pushed back!
It was a wonderful opportunity. If I’m lucky enough to come back again in a few months he will be bigger and probably too dangerous to play with- if indeed he still wants to play at all.
At the end of the day- after bathing, grazing and games – its time to walk back home with mum