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# Try this on for size

## A day in the life of an elephant.

While taking a pet for a walk might be a pleasant stroll for some, it takes on a whole different scale for elephant keeper Amar Obaidat and his charges at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Every morning the herd of elephants are taken for a walk around the zoo to get their circulation going for the day ahead. The elephants, Tamar, Suzanne, Michaela, Avigail, Teddy and baby Gabby, are walked in two groups to keep their numbers manageable. First to go are usually two of the smaller females and Gabby. Before each walk they form a line and true to their reputation make a chain, trunk in tail. Gabby, aged just one and a half, has yet to master the trunk-to-tail trick and prefers to run alongside, under the careful watch of a keeper. The chain keeps the elephants in line and prevents one from wandering off by itself. One can only imagine the painstaking search that would be required to uncover a misplaced elephant hiding somewhere in the zoo. While elephants may appear to lumber along with a reserved stride they actually move surprisingly fast. Each step is over a meter long and the pace is quick enough to give the keepers a fair bit of exercise, too. "It is hard to keep up with them," Obaidat admits. When it comes to walking the larger elephants, trying to keep up would take serious athletic form but the keepers have an elegant solution. Rather than walking the elephants, they ride them. At the correct command each elephant kneels down to allow a keeper to mount. Then they are off, much to the amusement of those early visitors to the zoo who are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the procession. The elephants were named after various personalities. For example, Teddy, who was born in Israel, was named after former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek. Thirty-year-old Tamar is named in honor of Kollek's wife. Walking an elephant demands a certain amount of skill, including a smattering of proficiancy in Thai. Besides Teddy, the other five elephants come from Thailand and only respond to commands in Thai. Although there are two expert elephant handlers from Thailand at the zoo, the local keepers are also learning how to control the elephants and that means learning their language too. With their morning run finished, the elephants are each treated to a shower delivered through high-pressure water hoses, just like in a car wash. As well as washing off the dust and dirt that the elephants pick up during the day, the wash also gives keepers a chance to inspect the elephants for any injuries and then treat them accordingly. The morning walk is an important aspect of the elephants' daily routine and gives them a chance to stretch their massive legs. In addition to the walk, keepers try to provide some entertainment for the elephants by interacting with them during public performances that can be seen during the day. The best time to catch an elephant show is in the afternoon when the elephants demonstrate their agility and strength.