FRESNO, Calif. - Take a visit to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and you'll notice shiny accessories on the park's only male elephant. But it's more than just a fancy look. Vus'Musi is the first elephant in Fresno to get brass caps on his tusks, keeping him healthy.
As zoo visitors enter the elephant exhibit, questions come up about Musi and his silver tusks.
"Just like capping your tooth, sort of the same idea," said elephant keeper Tim Ramsay.
Ramsay says Musi came here from San Diego with cracked tusks. The zoo found a solution. Brass caps made free of charge by a local company called Fresno Valves.
"He's 13 years old, he's about 8,500 pounds and he's really rough with his tusks so he likes to hit them on things and break them. So those caps really just help him give added protection," said Ramsay.
Similar to a crown on a damaged tooth, the caps prevent Musi from breaking his tusks. Breaks that can lead to possible infections.
"And then you risk at that point, potentially losing a tusk or even potentially giving it an infection that could move up into the skull," said Ramsay.
Ramsay says Musi doesn't show any discomfort through months of wearing the silver caps.
"We've actually had another zoo contact us and they want to use the same company to make tusk caps for their elephants as well," said Ramsay.
When Musi's tusks grow out long enough, zookeepers say they will cut off the damaged tusks and he may not need brass caps anymore.