December 20, 2010

This past week, Dulary began showing signs of gastro intestinal irritation. Her vet team and caregivers have been monitoring her constantly, and as of today, we are relieved to report she is beginning to show signs of improvement.

In the afternoon of last Sunday, the 12th of December, Dulary stopped eating. The minute we noticed symptoms of moderate abdominal discomfort, we proceeded with our typical treatment for any elephant exhibiting the early signs of colic. Throughout the night, Dulary rested normally and defecated periodically without strain; however, her abdomen continued to bloat.

On Monday, Dulary drank only marginally and nibbled at just a few pieces of food, even though her color and temperament were good. But then she stopped defecating, and her belly was becoming more distended. Medical treatments and vet visits continued through the day and night. By Tuesday morning, things looked brighter. Her bloating was down a bit, appetite slightly improved, but our sigh of relief was short-lived. For the remainder of the week, Dulary would have a series of ups and downs.... binge-eating two apples and three pears, another day eating only two granola bars and four peeled oranges, with the highlight being 3 bowls of popcorn saturated with oil and a little salt for palatability. In between these signs of appetite were the rare and occasional bite of hay, but her appetite was still not up to par. 

By late last week, Dulary had essentially stopped drinking—instead of the normal 20 gallons a day for this time of year, she was only drinking maybe 3 or 4.  Enemas continued and Dr. Scott inserted a catheter in Dulary's ear, where she has cooperatively allowed us to give her more than 35 liters of fluid each day to prevent dehydration. Yesterday and today, Dulary began to drink water again on her own, selectively eating produce, crackers and cranberries. The greatest highlight for all of her caregivers is that Dulary "pooped" last night. While that event may not sound very glamorous, it is an awesome sign that her digestion is beginning to improve. We are hopeful that Dulary is on the road to recovery. 

We would be remiss if we didn't mention Misty, who has stood by Dulary throughout her ordeal.

Dulary is without a doubt the best patient ever: frequent enemas, daily fluids, caregivers and vets doting and coddling... quite simply, Dulary is an absolute gem. With every passing day, she becomes a little brighter, rumbling a little more... and we even hear a few "gargles and grunts," a sign she is definitely on the mend.

As for what may have caused Dulary's gastro intestinal irritation, unfortunately we may never know. With limited diagnostic tools available for elephants, there is no way at this point to determine if it is a blockage or obstruction, or just excessive gas. We hope to find more answers on what may have caused this later, but for now we are 100% focused on her recovery and satisfied just knowing that Dulary continues to eat, drink and defecate... the simple functions of life that we all take for granted.

We will continue to monitor Dulary closely and update you on her progress in the Asian Ele-Diary if there is any change in her condition. (If you don't see a report in a few days, please remember the "no news is good news" rule!)

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Unseasonably cold weather certainly throws the normal caregiver and elephant routines upside-down! With no sun and plenty of wind, on several occasions it was simply too cold for the Girls to go outside. Last Sunday, even Minnie—who has been known to go swimming in 30 degree weather—felt the cold air rushing through the rubber flaps of her door and promptly turned around and headed back to the front of her stall, as if to say, "No thank you!"


Minnie

In Phase II, we are still getting used to the new overhead radiant heaters, tweaking them here and there to arrive at just the right temperature. It gets a bit colder on Minnie's side of the barn and she seems to like it that way, so she doesn't appreciate her overhead heater set too high.

Deb and Ron, on the other hand, like to be toasty warm, so they have no complaints about their new heater. With the outdoor temperatures rising just a bit this past week, we've been able to let the Girls go outside for a few hours. The warm barn is always ready for them when they choose to come back inside.