Elephant my friend

Jaya accepting the bread offered by Zulkifli. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

TAIPIN‌G (Sin Chew Daily) -- Zulkifli, the elephant keeper at Taiping Zoo, has had a strong affinity for the giant mammal ever since he was a kid.

To him, elephants are not any different from human beings and are even able to understand the human language.

In other words, we can communicate with elephants and become friends with them.

Every morning, Zulkifli will walk into the elephant pen to clean up the animal droppings and food residues, and will open the stalls to allow elephants to walk into the pen only after making sure they are healthy and not feeling uncomfortable.

He said elephants have huge appetites and are fed six times a day. Each elephant can ingest up to 200kg of food a day.

Whenever an elephant raises its ears and looks you in the eyes, you have to watch out, as this is a sign it is about to attack you.

However, Zulkifli assures that elephants could be very friendly if they are treated with respect.

The special one

There are currently one male and seven female elephants in the Taiping Zoo.

Setia, the only male elephant, is the most violent among the jumbos and once lifted a zookeeper up and threw him down on the floor.

As such, Setia must be secured inside the stall and allowed into the pen only when zookeepers are about to leave.

Jaya, one of the female elephants there, has a special position in Zulkifli's heart.

The orphaned jumbo was picked up at a cave in a forest near Sungai Siput, and was the only one that is allowed to walk on the roads around the zoo with her keepers.

Jaya is more than a special elephant to Zulkifli, as she came to his rescue when he was once attacked by her baby elephant inside the stall.

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