A Sussex farmer has been dealt the formidable ‘tusk’ of providing enough oil to spoil a baby elephant.
Horsham’s The Linseed Farm is used to dealing with sizeable orders – but today a herd of African elephants will become its biggest customers yet.
Farmer Durwin Banks will make a special delivery of 25 litres of home-pressed oil as a christening present to celebrate the 13-strong herd’s newest arrival.
Not-so-little Mirembe, the 22nd elephant to be born at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury, weighed in at a healthy 150kg when she joined mother Tammi and 11ft, 6,100kg proud father Jums in June.
The herd – the largest in the UK – consumes about a litre of linseed oil a day, but Mirembe will have to wait until she’s on solid food before she gets a taste.
Mr Banks, the UK’s leading supplier of home-grown, farm-pressed linseed for human consumption, said: “About two years ago I came across a black and white picture of an elephant called Hango being oiled with linseed at London Zoo in 1936.
“A copy of the picture is one of my favourite exhibits in the Linseed and Flax Museum at the farm, which we use to tell the story of linseed.
“We don’t usually recommend our customers bathe in the oil, but we do know that when we eat it every day the high levels of omega 3 in linseed helps keep our skin smooth and supple.
“Elephants cannot bathe in the winter so I understand keepers used to knead their tough skin with rags soaked in linseed oil.
“Nowadays it is added to captive elephants’ daily ration to keep them healthy – so they’re very similar to us from that point of view.
“It was great to hear about the new baby Mirembe.
“Our christening present is a 25 litre barrel of The Linseed Farm’s linseed oil – enough for all the elephants.”
Howletts’ head elephant keeper Natalie Boy added: “I’ve also seen old photographs of elephants with oil on them, particularly around the eyes.
“We don’t use linseed oil on the elephants’ skin but as a supplement in their feed because there is some evidence it could prevent colic.
“Mirembe’s mum Tammi and her older sisters Jara, Uzuri and Manzi have about 280ml a day between them.”