Elephant Makes Quite The Impression

Image credit: courtesy of Chester Zoo

Take one look at the beautiful and detailed sand drawing of an elephant and the impulse is to believe it was created by one incredibly talented and meticulous artist. But at second glance, the drawing looks perfect, almost too perfect, to be the work of human hands. That's because the artist doesn't have hands, in fact she has four legs, weighs over two tons, and created this masterpiece while sound asleep. This is a self portrait.

The drawing is really an imprint, made by Sundara, an eight-year-old Asian elephant who fell asleep at the Chester Zoo in England, leaving an impression so detailed that it is possible to make out the folds in her ears and the ridges in her trunk. Sundara made the imprint during what must have been a deep, almost motionless slumber, something which is highly unusual for an elephant, which generally has to get up in the middle night to switch sides due to its weight, something which in this case contributed to the immaculate detail of the impression.

Will Condiffe, a spokesman for the zoo, told ABC News in a statement: "Elephants lie down on their sides to sleep for around four hours a night and usually turn over once, meaning they sleep for approximately two hours on each side. All of our paddocks are covered in a thick layer of sand which gives our herd a nice, soft surface to sleep on. The elephants prefer to sleep on a slight slope, so every couple of days the sand is turned over and banked up into piles for them to lean against."

It's unclear what led Sundara to stay motionless for a long enough period to make the impression but one thing is for certain, this is one elephant that people will never forget.