June 14, 2010

Our weather seems to have skipped right over Spring and jumped directly into Summer. Days are consistently hot and humid here in Tennessee, and the elephants take to the ponds and shady woods to cool off. Hot weather brings bugs! The Girls deal with this accordingly, spreading liberal coats of mud all over themselves. They also throw dirt and clods of grass onto their backs. Throughout the day, most of them can be easily located; simply look for a giant cloud of dirt!
 
Anyone watching the Ele-Cam this past Thursday afternoon got a chance to see some silliness as Minnie and Lottie enthusiastically sought to scratch their itchy places and cover themselves with mud. Minnie lay down on her side, as if she were going to sleep. However, once on the ground she vigorously wiggled around, squirming in the mud. Lottie took advantage of her friend's prone position and backed up until she ran into Min, and then moved her own hindquarters back and forth against Minnie's side, scratching energetically. She rocked forwards and backwards, stretching her front legs out like a sleepy cat. Bugs can't compete with teamwork like that!

Debbie and Ronnie are still coming back for a drink and cool hose shower during the day. Ronnie prefers taking the hose in her trunk and shaking it all around her head as if attempting to spray herself. Sometimes, when a caregiver offers to help she is all for it and stands with one side toward the caregiver-sprayer, then turns to the front, then to the other side so that no "ele-surface" is missed. Debbie only wants a shower once in a while, as she enjoys getting her fill of cold water to drink, then ambles off into the trees for a good scratch.
 
One morning when heading out for the AM feed along a 4-wheeler route, a caregiver found she evidently had missed an ideal episode of "Extreme Makeover, Habitat Edition" during the previous evening hours. Minnie had re-arranged some of the flood debris along the route; she had placed a HUGE stump, only slightly smaller than the 4-wheeler itself, near the entrance of the new gates into Field 3. Of all the places she could have chosen, this spot appeared to be her favorite. There were obvious drag, push and pull marks in the sand and dirt nearby, giving away the stump's original spot and leading to its current resting place. Minnie had also removed a large log that had been blocking one of the smaller fencing "doors" we use to drive through the fence from one area to another. It was obvious she had been very busy with this Habitat Makeover, and was happy to settle in for breakfast. She and Lottie then logged their usual Upper Pond time in beating the heat of the afternoon.

Debbie chose to remain in the Night Yard Extension and was content to eat her breakfast alone. A caregiver found Ronnie up the hill in the South Pond, coated in red clay muddy water. She was happily standing in the middle of the pond, occasionally spritzing herself along both sides. Once she saw the 4-wheeler approaching, she sprayed one last good time and climbed out on the bank to enjoy her grain and produce. She began flapping her ears and swinging her tail, spreading red mud speckles all around, including on the caregiver who was some distance away trying to leave the scene.
 
This week in Asia, the girls all decided to go for long walks. Tarra, with Bella at her side, returned to the barn twice for daytime visits with Dulary and Misty. The first day there was an orchestration of trumpeting, other noises, and touching. The three spent the day together grazing and dusting, while Tarra remained an on-looker when it came time for Dulary and Misty to go swimming. After dinner, Tarra took the long walk back towards Shirley. The next day, Tarra returned again, with a little less displayed excitement, and for a shorter visit.

Misty, Tarra, Bella and Dulary


Shirley had headed back toward the direction of the barn, and then decided to stay in Marcella's area. She went all the way to the end of the left branch, in a little collection of trees where she used to spend time with Bunny. It is shady and cool, and the lighting brings a softness to her face. During the evening she comes out into the grasses to graze.
 
The other day, Sissy and Winkie decided to follow a 4-wheeler all the way down North Road. So the generator, which runs the pumps for the well, was started and the hose was brought out to Sissy. As she came around the bend, she became totally excited, swung up her trunk, blew really loudly and started with ear flapping and "pop pop pop" noises from her trunk. It had been a while since the two Girls had been there, and it seems it was very exciting for them to return. Of course, Winkie chimed right in with the noises, because a happy Sissy makes for a happy Winkie.
 
Sis and Winks have been staying in this area for a couple of days, going down one of the wooded trails one day, and choosing a grassy trail the next. The watering station installed at that well has a trough for drinking at any time. Sissy can be given the hose, and watering can be done by the caregiver from the safety of a corral built around the waterer.
 
In Africa, for the last few weeks, Flora and Tange have been in the same area of Pipeline Road, doing the usual browsing, dusting, napping and dropping their personal composte. We have to take water to them in this area, so we have our special "water the Girls time." We bring treats and hay and sit watching them drink. It's usually a fairly calm time filled with sounds of Tange's loud slurping and Flora's dainty sipping.