Ellie Pedrick Testimonial – Volunteer, November – December 2017
When I was in primary school I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I replied “I want to be an elephant, so I can be Ellie the elephant”. This experience has allowed me to get as close to my childhood dream as humanly possible.
These past three weeks have been more than I ever imagined, I have never really been much of an animal person, and I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this experience. I knew that it would involve collecting data and shovelling elephant dung, but it really has been so much more than that. As the days go by you learn more and more about these incredible animals and you see them as individuals. The first week was pretty tough, I really struggled to tell the elephants apart, but by the second week it was starting to fall into place, and once this happens you are able to see the different personalities. This in itself has been one of the best parts of the experience, I have always loved elephants, but I have never really experienced an elephant being an elephant as the only ones I had seen in the past had been in zoos. To be able to get to know each individual elephant and its personality has been absolutely amazing and something that will stay with me forever.
One of my favourite elephant moments so far was when Madiwa was splashing about in the mud and she was standing on one back leg with her whole trunk and head submerged in the mud in front of her, it was a moment of pure happiness when you could see she was just enjoying being an elephant. This is what being an elephant is all about. Everything that the elephants do seems so exciting, I was on early morning observations in the night camp and I witnessed Keisha yawning, it was so cute and brought a big smile to my face.
These past three weeks have gone by faster than I could have ever imagined, and yes they have been hard work and I have been tired, but if someone offered me three weeks of no work and sleep over three weeks of hard work and elephants I would pick the elephants in a flash.
I have had such great fun with the other volunteers, all the AERU and KEP staff and off course the most wonderful 10 elephants.
This volunteering experience has allowed me to touch my childhood dream of being Ellie the elephant and that is something that I will never forget. (Note to my primary school teachers: I told you so!)