By KATHERINE HOBY
An elephant never forgets - her mudpack, that is.
Auckland Zoo's elephants, 33-year-old Kashin, from Thailand, and 19-year-old Burma, from (where else?) Burma, may be the heavyweights of Auckland City but they still like treats.
The gooey mudbath they happily wade into is beneficial for a number of reasons. Not only is it cooling on their thick skin and good to play in, the dried mud acts as a sunscreen and insect repellent.
As well as the mudbaths, the pair also love a dip in a cool pool, say Pridelands team leader Brooke Noonan and keeper Andrew Coers.
And while it might not have pleased the rest of us, the persistent Auckland rain over past weeks has brought cool relief for Kashin and Burma.
Ms Noonan says that in hot weather, the pair like to spend the hours mudbathing and submerging themselves in the water.
"It's a natural behaviour to wallow in water," she says. "It cools them down and gets them moving. Just like the rest of us, they tend to slow down on a hot day."
Riding the elephants through water and bonding with them is one of the favourite parts of her day, Ms Noonan says.
Kashin is probably more of a waterbaby than Burma, she says, though the younger elephant plays more than her senior companion.
"You have to motivate Kashin a bit more as she's a bit older. Her main orientation is food.
"Whereas Burma will try and knock down a tree, Kashin will want to eat it."
The elephants' diet is occasionally a sore point for zoo gardeners. Some of their favourite fodder is the native trees dotted around the zoo, which the gardeners would rather preserve.
Ms Noonan says the elephants are like children at times.
"They are quite mischievous and also get bored with routine. Working with them every day we get to know them and they are quite human in some ways ... They're our babies, our big babies."
By KATHERINE HOBY