water for elephants
When we arrived at the elephant sanctuary, all of the elephants were dusty and had actual dirt clumps all over their backs. I just assumed they had been playing in the dirt and some accidentally got stuck to their backs. I rationalized that, even with a trunk, the back is a tricky spot to reach. You can imagine my confusion when, after taking them down to the river to bathe, some of the elephants got out of the water and, using their trunks, would immediately start picking up dust to throw onto their own, freshly cleaned, backs. They did this over and over until they were dusty and dirty again. I later learned that elephants can get very sunburned, and the dust and dirt on their backs acts as sun protection. And apparently also serves as an insect deterrent as an added bonus. The more you know!
"Elephants gather sand and mud with their trunks and throw it onto their bodies, providing sun protection and repelling bugs. Sand helps dry and warm their skin in the cooler months, while mud helps to keep them cool in the hotter months."
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