Why we’re swapping poo with France

With all the goings on over the past 12 months about Brexit and the subsequent metaphorical poo flinging across the channel, we thought we’d get in on the act! But with real poo!

That’s right, we’re shipping our elephant poo to the continent, to France! It’s not our attempt to enter into the political world (who’d do that?) but more a social network for the world’s largest land mammal the elephant, poo knew?

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Like many species including ourselves, elephants have a very sensitive sense of smell. The nose is a powerful thing and it is often used for communication within the animal kingdom, like our rhino that mark their territory with dung piles. The poo can also reveal things about individuals such as their gender and if they are ready for a mate. We don’t fully understand what all animals get from their smell receptors but we do know that it is perhaps more important than some of their other senses.

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Why elephant poo? Why France?

Well, our elephants are about to embark on a journey as we prepare for the construction of a new elephant house. Their new home will be ZooParc Beauval, France which is already home to a herd of elephants so we wanted to help them break the ice and what better way to introduce yourself than send them some poo.

For the upcoming elephant move we have had the keepers from France coming to Knowsley, working with our keepers and of course the elephants themselves. This way the elephants will know the new team before they get to their new home which will help them to settle in more easily. When the keepers arrive, they bring with them boxes of dung from their elephants which we introduce to our elephants so they can start to get to know each other. It is the elephant equivalent of a pen pal. The keepers from France then take some of our elephants’ dung back with them for their elephants to investigate.

The elephant move is important and we want to make it as comfortable as possible for them so we have been working with them for the past 12 months getting them acquainted with custom made transport carriers. These are specially designed for elephants to make their journey as comfortable as possible. For now the training continues along with the poo swapping so we can get ready for the move in the next couple of months. We’ll keep you updated on our website.

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