Elephant Aid International acquires conveyor belt for barn clean-up

Published 4:19 pm Friday, January 13, 2023

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Elephant Aid International acquired a much-needed piece of equipment this week: a miniature conveyor belt. The sanctuary began fundraising for the conveyor in December of last year, and according to a press release, has managed to raise 70% of their goal of $6,244.

The belt will be used to help keep the elephant’s stalls clean. Currently, Bo and Tarra have a large elephant barn with three stalls, each stall filled with four feet of sand. Volunteers must shovel any feces and urine-soaked sand out regularly, usually having to heft the loads up past the stall bars and into a cart. The mini-conveyor will now be used to move shovel loads into the cart, reducing the amount of heavy lifting required by volunteers. According to EAI founder Carol Buckley, “No other sanctuary nor zoo have sand in the barn stalls.” The reasoning for this design was to prevent the elephants from standing on a solid concrete surface for extended periods of time, to reduce potential joint problems.

“Although it is better for the elephants joints, it is more work for keepers cleaning up,” Buckley said.

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She elaborated that the sanctuary will finish paying off the balance on the conveyor once they’ve finished raising the necessary funds. Buckley also stated that most of their fundraising efforts so far have been thanks to individual donors. “It would be wonderful if local businesses or groups would come on board to help,” she said. Fortunately for EAI, there has been some community involvement lately, with Sio’s bingo night fundraiser contributing some of their earnings recently, and the sanctuary is currently looking into participating in a fundraising event with the Firehouse Art Gallery this year. According to Buckley, caring for one elephant for one year alone costs over $100,000.

According to EAI office administrator Suzanne Carr, the sanctuary currently employs 20 volunteers. Having now procured the conveyor, the sanctuary hopes to acquire other essential equipment, including a Bobcat and a pick-up truck. Other projects they hope to complete include a solar-powered well, as well as a new pond for Bo. “It is essential that a non-profit find their place in the community,” Buckley said, “and that the community appreciate their mission and support it.”