Bathing With An Elephant

“I am going to help elephant have her bath” screamed my eight year old as she ran to join the mammoth creature sinking into the waters of Cauvery River. This was at Dubbare elephant camp. It was not just she; other adults and kids around ran in to join the fun.

The elephant, so massive, yet empathetic, endearing, yielding to every child’s wish there, spraying water on all around; the sight was unbelievable yet real. It was a chance to merge with nature. It felt like being alive is awesome! The squeals of laughter, the fearlessness of the people around proved that.

I was at a distance watching the fun, the mahout seemed to be in full control of the situation. Dubbare elephant camp, at Coorg in Karnataka is an abode for retired elephants and it also doubles up as training camp for young elephants. We were there around noon time, the time when elephants are taken for their bath.

While for humans, skin is the largest organ, for elephants it is not so. Compared to its size, skin is small therefore heat dissipation from its body is less. For this reason they have two baths, a dust bath soon after their water bath. This layer protects them from sunburn, caused by UV rays.

The elephant taking dust bath was yet another interesting sight and activity for children. I am sure given a chance they would have loved to do that too. I pulled my daughter away in time lest she thinks of simulating that act too. I was prepared with a change of clothes but not with a bar of soap.

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