At 61-years-old Tricia is one of the oldest animals at the Zoo and her health and welfare are a top priority for her keepers who work hard to ensure she is kept comfortable in her twilight years.
Senior Elephant Keeper, Kirsty Carey, said: “During the winter months Tricia does feel the cold and we had noticed her shivering when she left the warmth of the barn for her morning walks around the Zoo.”
“We have been training Tricia to wear the specially designed blanket on colder mornings, it’s basically a horse rug modified to fit around Tricia’s belly.”
The elephant keepers started working with Tricia last winter to get her comfortable with having something on her back.
“It started with a thin piece of material and towels being placed on her back, and we rewarded her with her favourite foods,” Kirsty said.
“It was a gradual progression before we introduced her to the elephant blanket that will keep her nice and warm as the temperature dips to single digits this winter.”
At her advanced age Tricia feels the cold more than the Zoo’s younger elephants Permai and bull, Putra Mas.
“The elephant barns are heated to a pleasant 20 degrees, but we wanted to make sure Tricia can stay warm outside to not impede on her daily activities,” Kirsty said.
“It took a bit of brainstorming, but a giant blanket was the perfect solution to keep the cold at bay whilst not affecting her normal movement and behaviour.”
Tricia has slowed down over the years and has also been having deep tissue massages with an equine massage therapy pad to alleviate age related aches and pains.
Tricia arrived at Perth Zoo from Singapore in 1963 and is one of the oldest Asian Elephants to be cared for by a zoo. The longest lived elephant in Australasia was 63 years of age.
Visitors to Perth Zoo may see Tricia sporting her new winter blanket in the upcoming months.