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The sun has returned so it’s time to get the trunks out and brave the water. With the warm weather shining down on us we get excited for the blue skies and charming wildlife that comes to Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. Whilst we look forward to bottlenose dolphins and puffins, it makes us think of the unusual wildlife in West Wales throughout the years.

Elephants ‘Salt’ and ‘Pepper’ taking a dip at Aberystwyth – a visit from Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie, 1911. All elephants kept in captivity need regular pedicures. Elephants in the wild walk between five and seven miles a day over rough ground, which keeps their nails short, naturally. Batty’s Travelling Menagerie passed through Tregaron in 1848. One of the elephants drank the lead-poisoned water from a nearby pond and died in stables next to the Talbot Hotel  – she was buried in the field behind.  The event caused quite a stir in rural Mid Wales.

A local poet, Iorwerth Glyndwr, wrote a short Welsh poem on the death : ‘Oh vain man, neither you nor I can avoid death. The grave is the end of us all.’

Skanda Vale is a Hindu temple and monastery in a valley in West Wales where Valli the temple elephant lives.  She is an Asian elephant, aged 32, and a central part of the community. As a baby, she was discovered by Sri Lankan villagers, sheltering with a herd of wild buffalo and was taken to an elephant orphanage.  In 1981, when the then President of Sri Lanka visited the temple, he presented it with the baby elephant where she still lives happily today.

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