August 23, 2010

Things have been busy around Q-Barn this past week, as fence and construction crews are hard at work adding "Minnie" fencing around the Pond Yard. They have also been digging ditches and laying lines for automatic waterers being installed along with other ongoing projects. With this latest addition, the elephants have several new locations in the habitat from which to choose when they want a drink of water. Rather than wander back to the barn to drink from the hose they can stroll over to a nearby watering station.

Everyone has been ever patient, with Minnie and Lottie staying out past the "40" gate full time while the work is going on. They don't seem to mind the arrangement, as they have their pond if they choose to take a cool dip in the heat, and ample shade of the woods. The recent rain has brought new growth of nice green grass as well, so the grazing has improved from a couple of weeks ago.

During the day, Ronnie and Debbie spend some time up past the South Gate, as it is noticeably cooler up there when the temperatures rise. In the late morning/early afternoon, they wander back down to the Night Yard Extension to socialize with Lottie and Minnie at the new waterer. All four take turns sucking up water, flushing their trunks, then taking a drink. They also utilize this station heavily to shower and dust themselves. Occasionally this dusting also covers others nearby, including any caregiver caught down wind. Ronnie and Debbie also enjoy the occasional stroll to the end of the Night Yard Extension where they can watch from a shorter distance while the guys are welding and hammering on things. The louder, shinier, and noisier—the better!

After a stretch of high temperatures, the heat finally broke and the rains fell, and fell and fell—but you will not hear anyone in New Asia complaining. The vast habitat offers the Ladies some respite from the sun and areas for cooling off, but the mood definitely shifts when things cool down. During the middle of the day, instead of descending into the tree lines, the Girls are out in the middle of the meadows. In the midst of the downpours, they can be found grazing, splashing, playing, and utterly enjoying themselves.


Shirley and Tarra

Even Bella, with her usually fluffy coat, was wet enough to look 10 lbs. lighter. Her usual towel was brought out, and she happily went through the drying and fluffing routine. However, as soon as she dried, instead of staying in the trees or under her elephant, she ran right back out into the rain jumping and barking, demanding her dinner and announcing her joy. The mood is contagious, and quickly encourages the caregivers to join in the play. So the cooling rains have made for happy elephants, happy pups, happy caregivers and happy trees.

A typical view from Africa: First there is a tree swaying in the distance, then another, then another going back and forth, moving the air around. Then, a crashing, popping, loud crunching and suddenly the smaller trees part to a quickly moving Tange, with Flora not far behind. An excited trumpet from Tange reveals her approach, with deep rumbles, ears out and the dust from her back flying up and behind her. Here come the Girls!!!!

They are coming straight for the Barn, where there are loud noises and strange voices (a crew from the Gas company with a front loader doing some work). Tange runs up and comes around for a better look…Oh My! She puts on the brakes. The mud holes have been filled with water! Ah…a change of priorities. Flora catches up only to find Tange splashing around in a mud hole. So, Flora gets into one of her own. Both Girls have suddenly forgotten all about the noises that brought them back to the barn. Soon, with a coat of mud and a snack of browse limbs from a cleared spot, its time for a little nap.