June 28, 2010
Misty and Dulary have access to an area where more work was done on one of the roads as part of our "habitat clean-up." In the process of fixing the road, a large dirt mound was deposited, and it seems Misty thinks it is a wonderful place to nap. The first morning it was there, just after breakfast, Misty was found lying on top of the dirt mound. Her back-end was on the higher peak of the mound and her head was lower at ground level. Although from the outside perspective, her position did not look that comfortable, she continued to nap and that spot became her spot of choice. Misty napped there off and on for the next two days, though most often with her hips lower and her head on the rise of the dirt pillow. The newly unearthed cool dirt may have been what attracted her to the spot as she took advantage of the temporary cooling place before it completely warmed in the sun.
Shirley made it down to the lake with Tarra and Bella, where they are spending their days in the shade of a little nook in the woods, and their evenings exploring the newly-cut fields illuminated by an almost-full moon. These are the times when you don't need a flashlight to find the Girls, as long as they are not hiding in the woods. With their light coloration, they reflect the moonlight, and are seen easily from across the field. Shirley is very easily seen in the moonlight, second only to our other past grandma, Delhi. Some of the ladies are darker than others, so the effect is lessened slightly.
Minnie frequently finds ways to make a caregiver's day interesting. On one recent morning, while going out to feed, a caregiver saw that Minnie had placed a large culvert directly in front of a gate, blocking it. Though the 4-wheeler could just barely squeeze past the culvert, it really needed to be moved out of the way.
These culverts are large tubes made of heavy ribbed plastic about five feet in diameter. Several of them can be seen on the Ele-Cam, strewn about the pasture where Minnie has kicked and pushed the extra ones. The culverts are placed in creek beds with dirt and rocks packed around them. This allows the water to flow freely through them while elephants and caregivers alike can travel over them crossing the creek.
Despite its size, the culvert blocking the gate could be rolled quite nicely from side to side, but moving it forwards and backwards was quite impossible. With a stroke of genius, the caregiver unlocked the gate and (with a running start) swung it into the culvert. This action nudged the culvert back a few inches. This "gate swing technique" was repeated several times until the culvert was away from the middle of the gate and in a position which allowed the caregiver to roll the culvert completely out of the way. No doubt Minnie was watching from the pond, perhaps amused, as the caregiver struggled with something Miss Minnie could move so easily.
Is there no place unreachable by trunk? Last week, during their shower rituals, we shared information about the fact that the African Girls seem to be very good yogis. Their yoga-like moves include reaching with their trunks around and behind their huge ears, or stretching their trunks under their bellies to their belly buttons. Tange will at times sit on her haunches, and with her trunk reach way around and almost touch the base of her tail—possibly an advanced "ele-yoga-stretch." Flora will scratch the side of her belly with her tail, then reach around with her trunk and touch the tip of her tail. Both of the Girls can reach well over their heads to the backs of their necks. Of course they reach all of these areas while generously smearing mud on themselves.