August 30, 2010

Liz is discovering a brand new vocalization that none of us have heard from her before. It kind of sounds like a frog croaking or a pig snorting. Throughout their lives, elephants will often explore new sounds, and sometimes they will even quietly practice the sound until they're ready to reveal it. Liz has made her new sound 4 or 5 times over the past week and a half—with no apparent reason or circumstance behind it.
 
Frieda lay down for a nap one afternoon, which she hasn't done in a while, and Liz immediately went over to stand guard. She starts out by standing right beside Frieda, then proceeds to rest one of her front legs across Frieda's body. Then if that's not enough coverage, she'll position herself directly above Frieda so their bodies cross each other. It is interesting to see that even though Liz isn't feeling well, she still feels compelled to look after Frieda. For Liz, even during these difficult times with her TB treatments, life still moves on—discovering new sounds and watching out for her sisters.
 
One evening, a caregiver was working up behind Phase II barn on the retaining wall. Deb and Ron had come into the barn to enjoy a drink. They were leaving the barn just as she was walking along the top of the wall, so she hopped down behind the wall—just a foot or so. When Deb and Ron noticed and looked up at her, they seemed quite perplexed at how she could possibly be taller than they. Both eyed her, as if trying to figure how she had grown to twelve feet tall. Deb moved in for a closer inspection, but it was Ronnie who began reaching over the wall with her trunk. When she felt the ground, she seemed assured that all was right with the world and that their caregiver hadn't suddenly grown taller. She was still a tiny human, but standing on a "hill" hiding behind the wall. Satisfied with their answer, they both continued down the alley and back out into the habitat.
 
While working on the Phase I fencing, this same caregiver was at the back of that barn which is also on higher ground than the annex yard. When she was walking the perimeter, Billie noticed her. Once again, a caregiver was taller than an elephant. Much like Deb and Ron, Billie seemed to find it odd to have to look up to peer at her. But Billie being Billie, rather than concern herself with the apparent growth spurt, she just continued to supervise her work—making sure it was done to her satisfaction... and that nothing was disturbed or where it shouldn't be!
 
The weather continues to be near perfect, and another temperature drop is expected later this week. The mornings start out slightly brisk, with temperatures that bring out a sweatshirt and make a cup of coffee feel just perfect cradled in your hands. Driving through the woods in the new Asian habitat, the air is mildly chilly—but feels wonderful, especially when you know things will warm up shortly. Misty and Dulary are still wandering down Lake Rd. in the mornings. With the slight decrease in bugs and not having to worry about escaping the sun, their escapades are extending past the evenings now.
 
Tarra has been grazing at the lake, and Bella—instead of enjoying the shade of her much larger friend—was found sun bathing about 10 feet away, alternating between lying on her side and belly up. It's mild enough that Shirley enjoyed a nap just outside of the woods; no need to rise early in this weather, since there will be comfortable grazing time still to be had. Sis and Winks are all the way at the far end of Marcella's, where the delicate light green grasses grow. With highs in the 80s, they are comfortable exploring the hills and branches of this area throughout the day, being found in a different spot every time the 4-wheeler is brought out to them. And at night feed, the sweatshirts come out again for the caregivers, although the girls are nice and toasty. They store their heat, especially on sunny days, so even though the moon is out and it's a bit nippy, the Girls remain warm to the touch.
 
Shirley is doing well. She has continued on all week as if nothing is out of the ordinary. (See 8/19 Asian Diary Entry) Her edema is almost completely resolved, with just a small area on her belly that is tightening up more each day. Seemingly, she is also starting to expect extended stays when the caregivers go out to her; of course, we completely accommodate her. After the Ladies were finished drinking, Shirley's visit with the water trailer last night involved emptying out the rest of the water tank into the mud wallow where she was. As the water slowly drained, Shirley thrashed her trunk in the fresh water and used her foot to scrape the bottom of the puddle, pulling up thick wads of mud she proceeded to smear on herself, concentrating on the backs of her legs. Tarra came over, and although she did not share in the mud bathing, she was more than happy to share in the hay eating. And that's how they were left... with Shirley 'smiley' and silly, leaning her tail to the side to make sure it got its coating or fresh mud, and Tarra by her side, checking for any leftovers.
 
After dumping a load of grapevines in various places throughout the habitat in Africa, the Girls had a little fun locating these hidden treasures. Well, it really only takes about 20 minutes until they have found all of the vines—having eaten, played with and even worn them as a hat. They sure do enjoy them though; Flora usually stands there and eats the vines, then moves on to the next bunch, savoring the small surprises of tiny grapes left on the vines. Tange, on the other hand, will grab as much as she can, do this little spinning, deep-rumble move, throw some on her head and back, grab some more if she can, and then walk away to enjoy them—taking short cat naps between bites.

 
Before Tange eats her grapevines, she first likes to experiment with ways to wear them