June 20, 2011

Last Sunday morning, in different areas of the habitat, neither Dulary nor Sissy walked over to their food when it was brought to them. Strange for Sissy, but Dulary seemed preoccupied with dusting for bugs (which she gets a touch compulsive about at times) so it wasn't as surprising. That afternoon, Sissy went into the pond, but was still there a couple of hours later. She generally goes in for a quick dip, lasting only about 20 minutes, so this again was strange behavior. Caregivers made several attempts to get Sissy to come out, but she seemed to want to stay just where she was.

Dulary was also again offered treats and other goodies, but she wanted none of it. It was beginning to look like two of our elephants weren't feeling like themselves at the same time. We always have to consider things like heat, but this seemed like more than that. Later that night, Dulary started to get quiet, vocalizing only occasionally. Sissy was out of the pond by 7:30 pm, but not interested in food, and she looked slightly bloated and uncomfortable. Dr. Scott had been called earlier in the day, letting him know we had two elephants that seemed to have abdominal discomfort. Banamine was prescribed, temps were taken, and since both Girls were stable, further checkups resumed the next morning.

Neither was interested in food. Dulary did not want water, and she was getting pushy with Misty—which happened when she was ill last December. Dulary remained passive and extremely cooperative with her Caregivers, but when she was uncomfortable, she pushed and swung at Misty. We ran some blood panels on both of the Girls, and while a few minor things were off, Sissy's were worse. She was much more dehydrated than Dulary, but to our relief, Sissy spent the rest of the day drinking about 15-20 gallons of water every time the water trailer was brought out.

Throughout the day, different things were offered, but no food was accepted, and only Sissy would drink. Dulary would allow the hose to be put in her mouth, but would just let the water run right back out. Because she was not hydrating herself, she was given 5 gallon warm-water enemas approximately every 3 hours. The next morning, Dulary decided some food was okay. We learned from the last time she was sick that anything bland in flavor was preferred when she has a bellyache. She ate 5 wasa crackers (which look and taste like cardboard) 2 granola bars and a few mints. Not much for an elephant, but at least she was willing to ingest something.

Meanwhile, Sissy still did not want any food, was drinking less, and was a little quiet again. After talking with the vets, another dose of Banamine was given to both, along with B-12 (to help with low energy) and a visit was scheduled for later that night. Dulary continued to eat small bits every 3 or 4 hours, and Sissy finally decided a tiny bit of produce was okay—but a bunch of grapes at one sitting was all she was willing to eat. At 10 pm feed that night, Dulary started eating small dainty bits of hay, and had about 10 lbs. of produce. She still didn't want water from the hose, but since her blood work showed improvement in her hydration, we figured she was drinking from somewhere else.

Sissy also started to eat more, preferring veggies to fruits; eating a variety of cucumbers, broccoli, onions and 2 bananas. By mid week, they were still not yet themselves, but were heading in the right direction. We continue to check their blood work. As of yesterday, Dulary, while still not 100%, continues to do better than Sissy, eating hay and about any produce we offer her. She is much more vocal and interactive, and is going easier on her friend Misty. Sissy is still wavering—eats well at one meal, but not the next, and still no hay. She remains a little quiet.

We are not sure why the two of them would get sick on the same day, but one of the possibilities is some new hay we started feeding a couple of weeks ago—only about a bale and a half for each of our elephants per day. Since Sissy has had stomach issues with changes of hay in the past, as well as changes of season, probiotics usually help her. And ever since Dulary's first bout last December, her stomach just seems to be more sensitive now, too. We sent the hay out to be analyzed for both nutritional content and for a toxicology screen—just to cover all of the bases. All of the other Girls seem fine with the new hay. Hopefully by the next update, both Ladies will be back to their perfect selves.

Recently at Q-Barn, Ele-Cam viewers have probably noticed Debbie and Ronnie have been spending a lot more time with Minnie. Ever since Lottie's passing, we have been trying to allow Minnie some more interaction with Deb and Ron. Previously, however, Minnie's over-exuberant play has been too much for Debbie, causing us to have to separate them. But in the past few weeks, Minnie seems to have grown by leaps and bounds in respecting Debbie's space. Often times, vigilant Caregivers have noticed Minnie and Ronnie disappearing to the Upper Pond, while Debbie grazes by herself in Field 3 nearby. This is a marked change, as Minnie usually feels the need to “shadow” Debbie.

Now, we can see Minnie grazing near Debbie…but not so near that she's invading Deb's space. It's such a joy, not only to see Minnie getting to have social interaction once more, but also to witness how respectful she is being to her friends. As the afternoon progresses and it gets close to dinner time, Debbie and Ronnie usually head back to the barn, making it easy to separate them away from Minnie again to give them all a break until their next gathering.


Debbie, Minnie & Ronnie