August 16, 2010

The Big Yellow Backhoe
The maintenance crew and contractors invaded Divaland last week, beginning a series of projects that will end with new automatic waterers, new fences, and other work in progress.

While Minnie and Lottie were mostly indifferent to the activities (since most of the equipment and people were at quite a distance from them), Debbie and Ronnie were beside themselves with excitement. The backhoe was digging a trench just on the other side of the fence from them, and WOW was it fun. Deb and Ron spun in circles, touching each other repeatedly. Debbie popped her trunk on the ground constantly, while Ronnie’s signature “killer whale” noises pealed out randomly. Dust flew everywhere as they enthusiastically yanked tall weeds from the ground in their excitement. They couldn’t be enticed away with either delicious apples or hay. Under the watchful eyes of Scott and another caregiver, they resisted reaching over the fence to touch their noisy, bright yellow new friend. The pair seemed pleased to just to be near and see what the big machine was going to do next.

The Big Red Ball
The big red ball found its way into the pond near the New Asia Barn this week. Dulary was the first one to spot it, but went right past it to give herself a quick full-body dunk in the middle of the pond. Then, she returned to push the ball down into the water with her head. When it seemingly pushed back, she turned her back to it—not to move away from it—but to give it a few good kicks. At first, she gave a couple of less than graceful kicks, just catching a small piece of the ball. Then, with another kick, she found the sweet spot that sent it flying with a splash. With that, Dulary seemed satisfied and continued her swim.

Misty went over to Dulary, initially bypassing the floating red ball, but then she also returned to it. Misty used different tactics with the ball; she touched it with her trunk, pushed on it lightly, then stepped over it with her front leg so it was resting under her belly. She stood this way for a moment, smiling her Misty smile, then picked up her back leg, let the ball slip out, and gave it one swift kick, and away it went. The two Girls then continued their normal pond bathing routine of spraying themselves, floating around, and climbing on each other.

With all of this activity and splashing, the ball began floating back in their direction on waves undulating from the bank. As it approached them, they both quietly turned towards it with just the tops of their heads and tips of their trunks sticking out of the water (periscope style). They seemed to be assessing the situation and possibly deciding if the ball was a threat as it approached. Then, in a protective fashion, Dulary moved over to intercept the ball, and tried to shove it in her mouth! That did not work, since the ball is about the size of her head. So that action was followed by a slap with her trunk and a swift kick to send the ball back off into its own corner. With the ball firmly put in its place, the Girls were able to enjoy the rest of their bathing without incident.


Dulary takes her turn with the big red ball, while Flora experiments with new ways
to forge steel and aluminum.

The Beer Keg
For about a year now, there has been an empty beer keg (enrichment toy) sitting at the side of the African barn. One day while cleaning up around the barn, we decided to put this keg in the habitat. The Girls were away from the barn at the time, but when they got back ...oh... my ... gosh ...!

Flora, with her large ears out and trunk down, approached this keg that had invaded their space. She sniffed it, hit it, put her knee on it, and when it didn't say "uncle," she picked it up and dropped it again and again. Finally, she lifted it up and held it against the fence. It seemed she was trying to get a closer look at it in addition to pressing her head against it to "squish" it. She would squish, then sniff, squish then sniff... repeatedly.

Tange came over to see what was going on. She seemed to snicker, then walked away and put some weeds on her back, then left the yard. Flora tried a few more times to break this keg, finally putting it on the ground, almost exactly where she found it, and slowly walked away.

That beer keg has been in the same place since then—too scared to move.