September 6, 2010

It seems summer's heat has finally loosened its hold somewhat, and as a result, the weather has been downright beautiful. Yes, it is still hot during the afternoon hours, but temperatures are much more comfortable than a few weeks ago. When heading out into the Diva's habitat to feed the girls in the mornings or at 10pm feed, it is actually chilly in the wind riding the 4-wheeler. For the first time in quite awhile, long sleeves feel good!

Everyone seems to enjoy the milder temperatures, and with the late summer weather we are starting to catch sight of Sanctuary residents more associated with Autumn. The deer are beginning to bring their spotted fawns down to the pastures to graze and play. It is really something to watch them scamper around the giant elephants, who don't really pay them much attention at all. The larger bucks, now phasing out of their velvet as seen in earlier weeks, will soon be making themselves known to all the doe who gather in groups of various sizes as evening falls over the habitat.
 
Ronnie and Debbie have been found most mornings at the top of Pine Hill waiting for their breakfast. Recently, however, the two were found past the South Gate and half way down Barbie's Lane in the woods, re-arranging sapling trees to suit their scratching needs. They seemed quite pleased with the door-to-door meal service. They were back down in the Night Yard Extension by 11am to wander and graze in the shade, where they use their new watering station more frequently. The camera tower waterer is the one they share with Lottie and Minnie, so this is always a social “water cooler” corner at different times throughout the day.
 
Caregivers are finding Lottie and Minnie a bit further out than the usual Upper Pond area. Twice this week they have been discovered back in the long grass of Field 7, their furthest pasture from the barn. It seems everyone needs a little “me” time occasionally, and elephants are no different. While Lottie is fairly consistent in her meal-time location, Minnie can be in several areas, making it necessary to guess and drive around a bit. Lately she has been emerging from the woods toward Barbie's Wash, while Lottie is grazing in Field 3 near the Upper Pond or in Field 4. Minnie sometimes seeks out the quieter space of Field 5 with the tall, hide-and-seek grass and weeds. We are very happy that the Girls are continuing to be comfortable apart from their best friends once in a while. Of course, it is always entertaining to see a very vocal Lottie/Minnie reunion when they come back together.


Lottie and Minnie

The Girls in Asia have been exploring their new automatic water troughs located on the corrals that enclose the new camera towers. Since some protection for the cameras was necessary, it was decided to make their purpose two-fold; to both protect the cameras and to house watering stations. These fenced areas have a stainless steel automatic waterer welded into the framework, and a spigot in the center of the safety corrals if the Ladies choose to be given a drink directly from the hose by a caregiver. Now, the Girls have more fresh water options, no matter where they wander, and these watering stations almost eliminate the need for taking the water trailer out into the habitat. All of these changes increase the safety factor.
 
Tarra touched all around the new waterer down Lake Road, investigating first before drinking and bathing on her trip back to the barn to visit with Dulary and Misty. Sis and Winks have frequented both the water station at Marcella's and the one just off the pipeline. Their initial visit was accompanied by Winkie's "pop pop pops" with her trunk, and "oohs", followed shortly after with Winkie drinking from the trough and Sissy from the hose. Misty and Dulary use the water station on Lake Road almost on a daily basis. This allows them to stay further away without having to return to the barn for a drink. Shirley has come across only the one station at Cedar Lodge, discovering it one night when she and Tarra ventured up the hill.
 
Shirley's edema is completely resolved. Her recovery was fast, considering it has been reported that cases of ventral edema in elephants can take months to resolve. With the accumulated fluid, the skin stretches and sags a bit, so the last remaining evidence, after the fluid itself was no longer present, was the tightening up of the little "belly sag" that formed. Her stomach is now back to its flat self, and Shirley is doing very well. She continues to wander the habitat and has reclaimed some of her independence from her watchful caregivers. Some pampering for the "always strong grandma" is all right, but if it even resembles babying, it is out of the question for her. Shirley will have blood work repeated this week just to make sure there have been no changes that aren't visible. As always, we will continue to keep a close eye on her.
 
This week in Africa, Tange and Flora reminded us who is really in charge. When the maintenance guys came over to the barn, Flora half-heartedly threw a 4 ft. stick at one of them. Her action seemed to carry with it a little “please leave” message. This Girl has boundaries, and while she doesn't greet all strangers this way, this behavior has been typical for Flora since she first arrived at the Sanctuary. Later the caregivers where trying to entice the Girls away from the barn, but no amount of hay would free them from their vigil. They either went to get the hay and came back, or they just didn't leave at all. When the camera tower crew was at the barn, Flora leaned on the gate with her head all the way over the top, and her foot on the bottom rail. Later in the day, their meetings were delayed while the caregivers unjammed that gate. Perhaps one really should have an "ele-invitation" first before visiting the African barn. After all of that, when the workers left the barn--- so did Tange and Flora.
 
Anniversaries of note: Jenny began her life in sanctuary on September 11, 1996 and brought joy to all for the next 10 years. Winkie arrived September 12, 2000 as the 7th resident of the Sanctuary. Happy 10th Anniversary, Winks!