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Belfast’s largest ‘muckers’ enjoy spa treatment

Date: 01 May 2014

Asian elephant

Belfast Zoo’s largest ‘muckers’ are enjoying a new spa treatment, with the installation of a mud bath, after 14 lorries of clay were donated from Orangefield Park in east Belfast.

In 2008, Belfast Zoo became a sanctuary for older elephants and three females currently live at Belfast Zoo including Dhunja, Yhetto and the ever popular, Tina! Changes to the zoo’s management techniques and facilities has created a superb retirement home for the three ladies and allows the zoo to play a much needed role in the European wide zoo conservation and breeding programme.

The new mud bath is one of many ways that Belfast Zoo has adapted to ensure the best possible care is given to the elephants. Tina, Dhunja and Yhetto already receive regular pedicures and skin moisturising sessions.

Belfast Zoo curator Alyn Cairns is delighted with the mud bath “When you work in a zoo, you begin to see the world around you slightly differently. Instead of driving by a local park and seeing renovations, you begin to see potential elephant mud baths! I made contact with the Orangefield Park team and, although I’m sure my request was out of the ordinary, they couldn’t have been more accommodating! They delivered a total of 14 lorry loads of clay for the mud bath and with the recent warm weather, the ladies have been making a ‘splash’ with the latest addition to their enclosure. They love to lie and play in the mud to cool down. Dhunja is a massive fan of the bath and loves throwing the mud around! With daily pedicures and mud baths, our ‘beauty spa’ is doing a ‘ZOOPER’ job of looking after Northern Ireland’s largest clients!”

Wendy Langham, programme manager for the Connswater Community Greenway said, “We were delighted when asked to muck in and help the elephants at Belfast Zoo. The removal of this red clay was part of the Connswater Community Greenway preparation work undertaken in Orangefield Park for the new Knock River route. It’s great to see the clay being reused in such a creative way which will bring plenty of fun to Tina, Dhunja and Yhetto and play times they hopefully won’t forget!”