October 7, 2011

Fall has officially set in… the cooler nights and mornings are starting to feel a little less like an exciting respite from the heat and humidity of summer, and have a little bit more of a cold edge to them.  The days are still warming up to a toasty niceness.  It is the kind of weather where you start out in the mornings wishing for more layers, but, by afternoon, you wish you had shorts on.  The Girls are spending their nights in the cover of the woods, protected from the wind, and their days migrating across fields following the sun, making sure they soak up every last drop.  Elephants have the ability to store heat, so despite the cooler temperatures they seem to still prefer staying out in the habitat at night. The current weather forecast is that temperatures will be dropping into the 30s at night this coming week, so we are getting ready for them to head into the barns in the evenings, at least for a few nights.

The wildflowers are still holding on to their blooms—mostly white and yellow, but the winter and cool season perennials are starting to dominate in our fields;  namely, wild garlic. This means anytime you take a four-wheeler in an open area, the smell of garlic is delicious!  Leaves are starting to change colors and there are other noticeable differences in the habitat.  Herons and egrets, always a beautiful sight, have started showing up in the lake on their southern migration.

Recently in Asia, we have started Protected Contact training with Misty and Dulary. As expected, they are relishing the additional human contact, and everyone agrees—Misty is impossibly cute.  Dulary has been a much more focused student than Misty, though.  During one of our training sessions, Tarra happened to be in the area, so our initial excitement of training with Tarra quickly dissipated when Tarra and Misty both decided to hang out at North Gate with Sissy and Winkie instead of participating.  Since Dulary and Winkie don’t always get along, it was quite wonderful that Dulary was occupied at the barn with our training session, allowing the others to have a lengthy social visit.

Tarra has been visiting Misty and Dulary a lot in the past few weeks, including stopping by two days in a row.  We are not sure how much her visits are meant to be social visits, though; it seems that her intention may actually be to steal hay.  Rather than going out multiple times a day to drop hay for the Girls, as we often did in the past during morning feed, caregivers are now dropping hay in multiple places around the habitat, marking them with cut up bananas (even if the Girls manage to not notice the smell of hay, there is no way they could miss the smell of bananas), and letting the Girls discover them throughout the day.  While this change in routine is good for all the girls, Tarra seems to be better at finding the hay than the others.

Tarra and Shirley
Tarra and Shirley

There has been a lot going on with Miss Shirley lately. The Vets continue to treat the wound on her face and, just to complicate things, somehow our very active grandma has also managed to develop a sore on her left shoulder and a cut on her left hind leg.  Since her injured leg is on the right (the one that fused crooked when it was broken years ago during her circus days), this means that when she wants to lie down to sleep, she must lie on her left side, which is not helping matters. The Vets are keeping a close eye on things and we continue to clean her wounds twice a day.  Shirley has been amazingly cooperative. The first few times we needed to administer treatment proved difficult, as Shirley was not inclined to follow the four-wheeler to the Protected Contact corral.  She stared at us with a look of total disbelief that we actually dared to presume she would follow us anywhere. Thanks to her affinity for sweet potatoes, and her Caregivers’ determination to care for her, Shirley did eventually follow us, but at her own pace, grazing along the way!  Needless to say, Shirley is awesome.  And her companion, Tarra, has been an absolute peach lately as well.  The few times Tarra has been in the field and wandered over to the corral while Caregivers and Vets were there, she remained on the far side and simply watched.  Tarra gives Shirley—and us—the space we need to do what we can to help Shirley heal, and it is very much appreciated.