March 7, 2011

With temperatures warming up, Tarra and Bella went for their first long excursion of the year. They had been on lake road earlier in the day with Shirley, grazing and napping in the woods. By late feed, Shirley was snuggled down in a bed of pines in the woods behind the barn, with Tarra nowhere in sight. After some searching, Tarra and Bella were found on one of the forks of Marcella's, which meant they went past the barn and kept walking!

The next morning it took a little more effort to find Tarra—somehow she doesn't leave as many footprints as you might expect from an elephant. She walked around the puddle at the entrance of Marcella's, not tipping off her caregivers that she had left the area. After an extended drive on the 4-wheeler through countless hidden trails, and still no Tarra, we broadened the search. Knowing how good Tarra is at not leaving a trace of her presence, no place was excluded. Although there were no footprints or fresh dung down North Road, we followed it all the way to Right and Left Field Trails, (paths that lead from the top of the ridge down to the fields by the lake).  Since the trail to Right Field seems to be her favorite, we followed that one, and at the bottom of the trail, just as it opened into the field, we spotted a fresh pile of Tarra dung. Next, we checked the puddle at the entrance of Left and Right Field—since there's no way around that one when it's fully wet. There we saw a set of footprints... with the toes pointing towards the head of the lake. Tarra's footprints in this puddle helped us to narrow the search from 2200 acres to approximately 1000, but she tends to go towards three places when leaving the lake. From there, it was just a matter of checking where we thought Tarra might be... and there she was—heading up the hill that leads back to the barn. So we fed her at the bottom of the hill for a flat area to eat, and where Bella comfortably napped after inhaling her own food.

All this traveling means that Tarra did a full loop around a good chunk of the property, already starting to log in the miles with the change in seasons. And although sometimes it takes a while to find them, it is wonderful that the Girls have the ability to "disappear" on the property for a little bit.

This lovely spring-like weather made for another good week for Tange and Flora in Africa, too. They have been hanging around the barn some, and then heading out to search for things to eat all around the habitat. Flora went down to the valley one day with Tange not far behind. Recently they've started pushing down and eating more trees. 

Thursday's weather inspired a picnic on the plateau, where they were treated with freshly cut saplings from the pipeline. Whenever they have spent a day on the plateau, they know that dinner will be delivered to them there. As soon as the 4-wheeler pulls up, they show their excitement with deep rumbles and short trumpets. Tange usually backs into Flora and does a little bow as Flora stands tall with her ears out. Their warm greeting and contentment of eating a good meal is always a nice way to end the day in Africa.

Liz has been doing well. She eats lots of hay and grain, though still is not really interested in produce. We weighed her this past week and she's up from 6,000 lbs to 6,300.  Her weight before the treatment was 7,200, so hopefully she'll keep gaining toward a healthier number. Liz doesn't seem to mind her treatment too much lately; sometimes she takes a little while before she's willing to go in the chute, but we are patient.

In case you missed it, this past week we launched the new Elecams in all 3 habitats. While all of our Girls who currently or previously lived in the Phase 2 habitat or Africa over the years have made an appearance at one time or another on the old cams, there was one elephant in particular who actually made her Elecam debut for the very first time this week... welcome Dulary!