Even though elephants have relative freedom at ENP, they are still living in a captive environment, necessitating that they learn basic behaviors, such as presenting their feet for trimming and their ears for blood draws. These easily learned behaviors are essential to ensure the elephants’ health and well-being.
Chang Yim is the second calf born at ENP. He is experiencing a near-to-natural family environment living in a herd with his birth mother. “The Family,” as they are affectionately referred to by staff and visitors, consists of Yim and his mother Doc Ngern; Faa Mai, also born at the park, and her birth mother Bua Thoug; adolescents Faa Sai and Thong Jan; and self-appointed aunties Ma Lai Thong, Sri Noon and Thai.
Chang Yim is 16 months old. True to his age and nature, he has bouts of defiance toward his mahouts. The majority of the time, he is busy being an elephant, engaged with his family and exploring the habitat.
But when his mahouts need to guide his behavior, Yim’s resistance to being told what to do has become problematic. Karl, Yim’s mahout, is learning positive reinforcement target training in order to teach him some basic behaviors so he can be examined and cared for safely and effectively.
It is exciting to see Chang Yim’s progress, knowing how essential this training is to his future.