Staff at the safari park were baffled by the mystery of the disappearing whirlpool bath.
Every morning they filled the open-air bath outside one of the guest houses, and every night it was empty – although no leaks were found.
It was only when a guest heard an aggressive slurping sound and went out with the camera that the culprit was discovered in the form of Troublesome the elephant.
The elephant – nicknamed ‘Troublesome’ – is known to rangers at the reserve for her curious nature.
But no one realized she was behind the ‘leak’ at the Jacuzzi-style hot tub outside one of the £400-a-night motels.
Susan Potgieter, owner of Etali Safari Lodge, in North West Province, South Africa, says elephants can drink more than 200 liters of water a day so drinking a whole tub of whirlpools is no problem.
She said: ‘The first time I saw the picture of her drinking, I couldn’t believe it. And then it occurred to me, of course, that an elephant was drinking it.
‘It was something of a relief as we had been trying to figure out why the pool had been draining so rapidly for weeks but found nowhere.
‘When it was empty in the morning, we first called the plumber, but they couldn’t figure out why it was leaking either.
‘Troublesome was caught in the act by a guest at the motel who had just gone out for tea on the deck.
‘They were quite surprised to see an elephant also drinking water and quickly grabbed a camera.
“We’ve seen this elephant a lot before and at the lodge. The rangers called her ‘Troublesome’ not because she was causing trouble but because she got too close to their cars. ”
Ms Potgieter said Troublesome probably preferred the whirlpool water because it was clean.
She said: ‘Now that we know what was going on, we tried to provide her with an alternative water source. But sometimes, it’s hard to get an elephant to change her ways.
‘She’s been a very welcome visitor to our guests and us, except that it’s best to check if she’s around before soaking in the tub.’