October 12, 2010

Just as the Ladies in all the other habitats were enjoying the onset of fall temperatures at the Sanctuary this past week, Lottie and Minnie chose to spend a lot of time back in fields 6 and 7 grazing. Unbeknownst to us, the change of seasons here would soon be felt in other ways—as this was the area where we found our dear Lottie after she passed away very suddenly Sunday morning. She was discovered under a familiar Cedar tree that was also once a favorite of Delhi's for long naps. To read more, please visit Lottie's web page.

At the moment we are heartbroken and stunned, and we appreciate all the kind words of support you have been sending our way. We will be keeping a very close watch on Minnie in the days and weeks ahead, as we all work on coming to terms with Lottie's absence from our lives.

Namaste, sweet girl.
 

 

As Fall approaches, weather changes are giving us hints toward wearing heavy sweatshirts and winter jackets, at least at day's beginnings. By lunch time, the temperature has usually reached 70+ degrees and the caregivers at Q-Barn start shedding layers from the morning feed. It has been great working weather, and the elephants seem to enjoy it as much as we do.

The Girls wander out into the open areas of the meadows, moving with the sun. Certain sections of the habitat are exposed to the warmth of sun before others. You can be sure the Ladies find those toasty spots to doze after breakfast, soaking up some heat after a chilly night.

Debbie and Ronnie choose to head up the hill past the South Gate on days with this type of weather pattern, because it is warmer on the hill than in the Night Yard extension below. So, caregivers usually deliver breakfast to them at the far end of Bunny's Trail, or right along Barbie's Lane just inside the tree line.
 
It is that time of year when the hay trucks begin arriving. These deliveries ensure there will be lots of yummy hay for the Girls to enjoy during the winter ahead. Billie usually sounds the trumpet to notify everyone of the arrival of the big trucks.
 
Feeling our first hint of winter this week, the Girls at New Asia spent their days basking in the sunlight, storing up heat for the cooler nights. The barn was opened in the evenings, giving the girls the option to come and go as they please. Sis, Winks, Dulary and Misty took advantage of that, spending a portion of the evenings inside. Though the temperatures did not fall too low, the open barn gives them a place to warm themselves. None of the Ladies spent the whole night in the barn. They come in, stand under the radiant heaters, get rid of their chill, and then head back outside.
 
Winkie was a little stiff after the first cold evening. This has been a common occurrence with her for years. Like many people, she physically tightens her body when she becomes cold, and that physical tightening seems to aggravate past injuries, resulting in stiffness. This physical tightening had sometimes led to a somewhat emotionally tight and closed Winkie. That is no longer the case—throughout the four chilly days, she has been very soft, smiley, open and vocal.
 
In the past, Winkie would let many things get to her. It took very little to get an emotional response from her and likewise it would take awhile for her to come out of that tough place. She has come a long way and has continued to take big steps in her emotional well-being over the past year.
 


Winkie

Shirley and Tarra decided it was not necessary to return to the barn for warmth, they just found warmer areas in the habitat where they spent their evenings. Pine groves retain the heat of the day, and depending upon the height of the trees, some areas that contain mostly pines can be up to ten degrees warmer than the areas surrounding them. So when there are temporary drops in temperatures, some of the girls stay in those little pockets of warmth. With the temperatures back in the 80s for the past few afternoons, the girls have all wandered away from the barn to enjoy whatever remains of our beautiful autumn.

Lately, there has been a lot of action at the African Barn. The Elecam installation crew has been coming in frequently to go up on the barn roof to activate and test the camera, while the maintenance crew has been clearing pines to access a signal. The girls have been eating lots of pine tree browse that the caregivers are bringing into the habitat from these cleared areas. They really enjoy stripping the bark off the short sections of tree trunk and will usually pin the tree up against the fence for better leverage.
 
Tange and Flora have been keeping a close eye on the crews. Anytime we have visitors in Africa, you can count on the girls returning from wherever they have been, anxious to see who's here and what is happening.
 
Flora's caregivers often give her meals in her bucket rather than putting the contents on the ground, because she is usually very good about leaving the bucket there when she's done. One day this week, her bucket disappeared after breakfast and it was nowhere to be found. But a couple days later, her bucket miraculously reappeared back in the very spot from which Flora took it. Thank you, Flora.