[Cookie was an Asian elephant at the Wild Animal Park- Escondido, CA]
Yes, absolutely they do!
In 2001 I was asked by a trainer to help one of their elephants who was having severe issues with arthritis. The medication “should” have been helping, but was having no helpful effect for poor Cookie. She was having problems even standing. So we setup a session.
I asked Cookie to tell me about her condition, asked how we could help her and what was on her mind. She shared how bored she was and that she couldn’t “stand it” any longer.
Aha, the key word so we continued to talk about this. She said, “I stand here, I stand there, I’m just always standing. In the wild you walk miles in search of food and to seek safety. Your mind is active and always aware. Always thinking. Here, there is boredom and standing. I can’t stand it any more!”
Some of this had to do with the changes the park made back in 1991 when an elephant trainer there went against their training and got between two elephants who were fighting with each other. The trainer was crushed between them and died. So the company of their human friends was scaled way back and left more for only medical needs. They missed that interaction, stimulation and their human friends.
So, I asked Cookie if she was interested in participating in the Elephant Show the park had.
“Yes, oh please!? I want something to do. Something to have interest in and have fun. I need to not just stand around any more!”
She loved the healings I did on her and said it helped her feel a lot better which I was grateful for. And I’m happy to report, she was put into the show and her arthritis stopped getting worse and actually got better.
Sometimes just letting an animal share what they’re upset about is all that is needed to help them physically. I went to see her in the show later and she still had a little limp in one of her back legs, but was walking just fine and was a much happier elephant. 🙂
[In memory of Cookie who crossed over in 2011.]