April 5, 2010

Dulary and Misty took their first swim this year. This week has been warm and sunny, and made for the perfect water temperature (since our girls do not seem to appreciate a cold bath quite as much as Minnie does). After morning grazing and afternoon napping, they seemed to make a bee-line straight for the pond, as if they suddenly remembered their favorite warm-weather pastime. They went around the bend and straight in, splashing the whole way. Dulary did her "whale dives," alternating them with big head splashes. Misty tried to climb on top of Dulary several times, and being her usual graceful self, fell off with a splash, but still seemed very proud of her efforts. The girls continued to dive and splash for over a half hour. When they were done it was time for dusting and, as you might guess, nap time for Misty. We would also like to note that this new video footage here is some of the very first from our new HD video camera recently underwritten. Soon we will add 2 more to our Wish List so the other habitats can begin capturing the Girls in HD, too!


Tange and Flora sometimes like to spend time each on their own in the African habitat. Tange was given access to a large area of about 250 acres that goes from the plateau, touches the Asian and Q-Barn habitats and extends even further to the southeast--and is affectionately known as "Zula’s area.” It is a diversified area with a pond, beautiful valleys, a couple of streams, nice hills and even a level area with lovely grasses and plenty of browse. Flora doesn’t yet have access to this area, as it needs "Flora fencing."
 
Flora left for the woods this week and was away from the barn for a couple of days. She was browsing around in areas known only to her. Tange stayed around the barn for about a day (being pampered) and then ventured out on her own. There is evidence that the girls enjoy themselves in their areas: downed trees, chewed saplings, and footprints up and down hills. The girls meet at the plateau to possibly tell of their adventures then go off once again to their secret places.
 
After a recent rain storm, the very mud that makes it tedious and messy for caregivers made it just wonderful for the girls! Lottie was eating morning hay at the sycamore tree, while Minnie as usual had hung back to greet Debbie when she came out of the barn. Ronnie succumbed to yet another spell of her incredible sillies, while Debbie kept right up with the others this time. A particularly large pool had formed along the fence separating the pond yard from the night yard. Once the girls realized the large pool wasn’t deep and scary, they used everything at their disposal to have as much fun as possible in it. Debbie did her “reverse/spin” moves with Minnie keeping pace and reaching for Debbie’s tail from over the fence. Each time, Deb spun and squeaked, flapping her ears and rubbing her side on Ronnie.
 
Ronnie had found a partially flattened rubber ball toy, and was tossing it to the side and backwards, kicking at it with her left hind foot as it passed. She repeatedly picked the ball up, spinning, tossing and kicking it while making her lovely squeak-squeal noises. She then uncovered a small log, which apparently was the most exciting thing ever! She held it in her trunk while skimming it across the surface of the water, making beautiful big fountains. With all the commotion, Lottie couldn’t resist and walked briskly back to her sisters to join in the fun, mouth wide open and ears flapping all the way. Caregivers on 4-wheelers were watching from a distance that would not disturb the activity, and laughed right out loud at seeing the happy playfulness of the girls.
 
This week marked the first time that Minnie and Lottie have had access to the “60,” Barbie’s wash, and fields four, six and seven, since that part of the new fencing project was finally completed after weather delays. Both girls seemed very happy to once again wander around the large grassy field beyond the “40” and to enjoy the wonders of the spring-time woods back toward Barbie’s Wash. Minnie was first in the upper pond, which had been viewed frequently on the EleCam, but which was off-limits for some time while the fence crew finished their project. What perfect timing with the 70 to 80 degree sunny days! All of this makes for some very happy elephants. Spring finally seems here to stay, and there are creek beds to explore, trees to push down, ponds to splash in, and finally some lush green grass starting to come up for grazing. Ahhhh……
 
As with all the Sanctuary elephants, Liz, Billie, and Frieda start to show some changes in their behavior as it gets warmer. Billie in particular has been exhibiting some new and more "open" behavior. She used to be the most guarded elephant at the Q-barn, but recently we have been seeing more relaxation and play in her. Her blue ball seems to be her favorite toy. She often kicks and bats it around until it gets stuck in trees nearby. Billie has also been spending more time exploring the area up the hill. She can often be heard rustling around in the trees there and making her signature “squeak!” calls. Recently a caregiver was getting ready to feed her up there, but before he could leave the barn with her grain and vegetables she realized what was going on and came bolting down the hill in anticipation of her meal. (Billie likes to eat…a lot!).
 
Almost every day Liz and Frieda take naps in the sun. When soaking up a lot of sun, they will draw up water in their trunks and give themselves a shower. They also mix up mud and douse themselves to protect their skin from the sun's rays. They are enjoying grazing on the grass that is finally turning green. The other day a caregiver tossed Frieda some hay, but she walked right past it so that she could graze with Liz on the green grass.