Tina's Diary ~ September 2003

September 30, 2003

Tina's rotten toenail finally fell off. Yes, this is a good thing. If you watch the EleCam you will notice that Tina is walking more comfortably and not fussing with her foot. She is on the road to recovery.

Today Tina met the rest of her elephant family. Jenny and she spent quite a bit of time interacting through the stall in the barn. Jenny was patient and Tina was a little aggressive. She lunged at Jenny and charged the bars. At one point she tried to hit Jenny with her trunk. Jenny withdrew her face which was protruding through the bars but not fast enough to escape Tina's charge. Jenny has a very healthy set of tusks which she raised to defend herself from Tina's blow. Tina miscalculated her hit, resulting in her scraping her trunk on Jenny's tusk. During Tina's display Jenny did her best to ignore the aggression but was very persistent, trying to get Tina to be friends. Tina continued to came closer and closer while Jenny took a submissive posture to make Tina more comfortable. Although Tina did get a minor, somewhat self-inflicted scrape on her trunk, it was actually a very good way to discourage Tina's fear based aggressive behavior. When Jenny finally left the barn Tina followed to the end of the stall and stood looking in her director for nearly an hour while eating her hay. It was amazing to see that Tina did not bob at all. She displayed no stress and as a matter of fact appeared quite content. Tina displayed this same type of fear based aggressive behavior toward Tarra and Sissy when they met. We are sure that she will work through her fear and become friends with Jenny just as she has with Tarra and Sissy...one elephant at a time.

"Hey, Tina...."

I say, "Hey, Tina!"

"I just want to be friends...."

"I'd come over, but... uh.... this bar..."

"Well, at least I got a foot in the door.
And that's a good start."

September 29, 2003

At dusk Jenny and Shirley approached the barn and Tina. They never came close enough to touch but Tina was aware of their presence. When Tina began to show that she was concerned and uncomfortable we opened the gate for her to come inside the barn. Jenny and Shirley watched as Tina walked away. Now that Jenny and Shirley have shown interest we know there will be a lot of interaction to come.

Tina, Jen, and Shirley
Jen and Shirley are interested in Tina

September 26, 2003

Another breakthrough for Tina. Although she has no difficulty leaving the barn through the alleyway, she has refused to take more than a few steps up the alley when returning to the barn. She always uses a different access when coming back inside the barn. Many elephants have a preference regarding what door they leave the barn through and which they return through. Today Tina decided she had no concern walking straight up the alley back to the barn. She grazed as she went acting as if she had done it a million times. Good for Tina!

Tina loves Tennessee river bamboo


September 24, 2003

Tina is really relaxing into her environment. She has started to explore and use more of her barn space. Her feet continue to heal and her spirits are high. We continue to provide a number of homeopathic and flower essence remedies for her recovering physical and emotional body. Currently she is on an oral sulfur remedy for her feet which has an over-all healing effect on her body. Her daily foot soaks include a combination of seeped calendula pedals, hypericum and arnica montana. This combination has a soothing as well as healing effect on Tina's sore feet. Tonight after her foot soaks Tina spent nearly an hour eating her Tennessee river cane (bamboo) which she has quite a fondness for.
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September 23, 2003

This afternoon Tina decided she was comfortable doing her foot soaks outside. She placed both front feet into the tubs and soaked for nearly 20 minutes. The entire time she was doted on by her personal assistant, Joanna. You could almost hear Tina saying, "More treats, please!"

Tina gets a foot soak outside

In the series of photos captured on the EleCam
you can see several of Tina's caregivers,
including Tarra, attending to her foot soak needs .

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September 22, 2003
Tonight at the 10pm feed, Tina was not in her usual place — the barn. Instead, she was found outside in the alley leading to the habitat. Backlit by the security light she appeared to be wearing a halo as she grazed, leisurely, without a care in the world. When she heard her keeper inside the barn she turned, ever so slowly and returned to the barn. She has been exploring her boundaries more and more each day.

Tina at night


September 21, 2003

Tina is settling into her routine quite comfortably; foot trims in the morning and then outside all day until dark. The weather has been glorious — in fact today it sprinkled lightly all afternoon. Tina seemed to enjoy it. She spent most of her time grazing on the edge of the woods. Tarra spent the entire day with Tina, most of the time antagonizing her to play. Tarra was in a very playful mood, cool weather and rain brings out the playful nature in elephants. Tarra tried desperately to engage Tina in Ele-Play but Tina was satisfied to stand back and watch Tarra being quite silly. The barrels, both the suspended one and Tina's toy on the ground, entertained Tarra for hours. When Tarra was through, Tina's blue barrel was flat as a pancake.

Ele-cam stills document this playful activity.

September 19, 2003

After an hour of foot trimming, Tina went outside. Today her favorite blue barrel was filled with treats and set in the yard for her. She quickly sucked all of the produce out of the barrel and went off in search of vegetation. She ate a variety of grasses and leaves and then began dusting herself. The weather has cooled down and the bugs are not as numerous. The only be-gone gesture she does now is at Virgil, a big black lab, that has no fear — whatsoever — of Tina.

September 18, 2003

Tina was not interested in going outside this morning, but as there was nothing that interested her inside the barn, she began to bob. She soon was deep in a catatonic state induced by her neurotic behavior. Since this zoned out state is not healthy, her care givers made the effort to distract her. Foot trimming did the trick. In order to trim her feet Tina must be "present" and participate. She voluntarily presented her feet and allowed more excess nail and pad to be trimmed. Today we took off a lot of the protruding nails on the inside of her front feet. These nails were so long that her feet hit when one foot passed the other while walking. The nails are finally beginning to look more natural and judging from Tina's activity level, she must be feeling better.

After the distraction of her foot trim Tina perked up and was willing to go outside. She wandered over to the dirt pit and covered all of us, head to toe, down our shirts and in our shoes, with dirt...gee thanks, Tina! She found some tender grass to munch and roamed around in the woods a little. The added plus of her being outside is that she engages in activity that does not include head bobbing.

Another good day for Tina.

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September 16, 2003

Tina is doing so well we can hardly keep up with her. This morning she went outside where she remained all day. The first thing she did was graze on the China grass which grows in the shade of the trees. She could not pick it fast enough. Tarra was with her and remained with her all day. Once her appetite was temporarily satisfied to set about covering her body with dirt and sand ...again, an endless task. EleCam viewers were fortunate to see Tina on the web cam ALL day. Everyone here at the Sanctuary was over joyed that Tina kept herself entertained and never once fell into her bobbing stupor. She investigated trees and the suspended barrel toy and displayed no bug-be-gone behavior at all.

4pm was foot soak time. Tina was so content outside that we brought the foot soaks to her. She did great, no problem, just stood in her foot soak accepting the treats and attention. After a drink of water from the hose and her dinner served outside, she finally decided it was time to go in.

What a day...a great day!

Over the past few days, during the time that Tina has gone outside, we have made an interesting observation. Tina bobs when her caretakers approach, interact or feed her. Once the caregivers leave her neurotic head bobbing stops.

Munching on grass

Tina loves the China grass and
munches away!

View a composite photo from the ele-cam.

Munching on grass some more

Tina is calm, keeps herself entertained, and forgets about head-bobbing

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September 14, 2003

This was an exclusive TINA EleCam day!

Tina went outside at 9AM CT, immediately following her breakfast and bath. As soon as she was in the yard she began to dust herself with sand and dirt. Thankfully, this behavior has almost completely replaced her neurotic head bobbing while she is outside. Tina was observed eating wild vegetation and exploring the trees as well as the suspended toy. She did not really play with the toy but rubbed on it and let it slide across her body as she walked past. For hours she engaged in excavation activities using her feet to dig up dirt and sand. This behavior is very beneficial to the health of her feet. It increases blood circulation and naturally wears down her pads and nails. The fact that she used her feet so much today indicates she is feeling much better. At 4:45PM CT, when it was time for her foot soaks, Tina was still outside, calm and content. She came back inside the barn and although the gates were wide open for her to pass from stall to stall she stood in front of a closed gate, the one that leads to the scale. She stood and waited until the gate was opened and she was allowed to walk across the scale. Perhaps she wanted us to know that she has shed 100 pounds. Bravo for Tina.

On the way outside
Tina confidently leaves the barn for another day outside
To play in the sandpile all day long
Playing in the sandpile and having fun
Pure delight
What a good day!

To see a sequence of pictures of Tina from the Ele-cam (these are stills) you can download the zipped file by clicking here.

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September 13, 2003

Tonight was another first for Tina. When staff came in for the 10PM feeding, Tina was not in the barn. The lights were out but the security light around the back of the barn illuminated Tina standing outside her barn door reaching over the retaining wall. When she heard and saw her caregiver she paid little attention. She had fresh mud all over her legs and face where she had painted herself, or so that is what it looked like. She had uprooted some edible vegetation which she munched. When the inside barn lights came on Tina nonchalantly strolled back inside the barn ready for her evening meal. Her increasing comfort with her new home is obvious.

We did more trimming on Tina's feet today. The outside nail on her left front foot is hanging by a thread of flesh. It is difficult to look at but we know that once she sheds this nail she is truly on the road to recovery. She continues to be more and more comfortable each time we trim. Today we were able to remove more of the excess pad from the inside of her foot which is imperative because once the outside nail sloughs off she will have no foundation on the outside of that foot. She must stand level on her foot in order not to cause injury to another nail. The infected area on the bottom of her foot is nearly all trimmed away. Today Tina presented her foot numerous times without prompting and held it there for an extended period of time. We do not dominate Tina or force her to present her feet, so we are quite proud of her cooperation and trust.

Scott guides Tina's foot in place
Scott guides Tina's foot in place
Treating Tina's foot
The circle marks the area of Tina's pad that is rotten. She allowed Scott to trim all around it today.

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September 12, 2003

It appears that Tina is going to make a habit of going outside. As the weather cools down the bugs will become less irritating and then disappear all together, giving Tina no reason to not hang around outside.  She left the barn at 8:30am CT, walked right down the alley to the shaded area behind the barn. All who watched on the EleCam saw her continually shower herself with dirt and sand. This behavior protects her sensitive skin and also appears to be a bit of a nervous habit. The good thing is that this behavior is not detrimental to her health. Tarra stayed with Tina until early afternoon when she seemed to grow impatient that Tina did not want to wander away from the barn. Tarra tried to encourage Tina to walk by crowding her and then actually used her head to gently push Tina in the direction of the pasture. Tina was determined to not be "pushed around". She held her ground and waited for Tarra to pass. She threw a few more trunk fulls of sand and then walked back up by the barn. At around 3pm Tina returned to the barn. Another good day.

A normal activity
Tina regularly goes outside
Tina in the woods
...to the shady wooded area behind the barn.

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September 10, 2003

To know Tina is to know that everything she does is well thought out and painstakingly slow. Be it her constitution, the circumstances of her life until now, or simply her sore feet, Tina does everything slowly. This is why we are not surprised that Tina has spent the past two days inside the barn...again. Following her great adventure she has been quite calm, full of peace.

We have noticed an interesting shift with Sissy and Winkie. Their routine is to come back to the barn at dusk, but the past few nights they have gone back outside after dark to play in the wooded area behind the barn. This is a new behavior for these two indicating that they are comfortable outside after dark. As Tina makes progress and adapts to her new life, the other elephants continue their recovery as well. Watching each elephant continue to grow more comfortable with this life of so many choices, so much freedom, we see how far each has come. Last night as we listened to Winkie chirping in the woods and Sissy trumpeting as she threw sand about wildly, Tina listened. Tonight Tina could be heard joining in on the fun. She did not join in physically but each time Sissy or Winkie let out a playful vocalization Tina added her voice to the merriment. The music they made was exhilarating.

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September 8, 2003

On the one month anniversary of her departure from the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Tina caused a roar that could be heard across North America...she went outside to explore the habitat, and her fans could not contain their enthusiasm.

What a day. Tina left the barn at 10:30 AM CT and entered the world of trees, vegetation and natural substraight. She wasted no time exploring the trees and fine Tennessee soil. Using her sore feet like shovels she piled up mounds of dirt and then flung it onto her back. No bugs were going to drive her inside on this day. In the shade of the forest canopy she immersed herself in nature, slowly moving, inch by inch, to explore her new home. Her adventure lasted until 2:30PM. A huge adventure for one day, Tina returned to the barn for a shower and groceries. One thing was very obvious when she returned — Tina did not engage in her normal head bobbing behavior. Instead, she stood calmly and savored her hay and tree branches. She appeared to be miles away, almost in a dream. This was a powerfully good day for Tina and all who love her. YEAH for Tina!

Tina explores the woods
Tina explores the woods for the first time
Tina touches a tree
Touching a tree
Tina scratches on a tree
and using it to scratch an itchy trunk!
Tina and Tarra
Tina and Tarra back at the barn

Carol would like to share an e-mail she received today from some of Tina's fans:

The gang here on Ashwood Avenue in Nashville is very proud of Tina, and we are very proud of you. We range in age from four to sixty-seven. Some of us who are younger feel that Tina's eating habits would get us sent from the table. Others of us say "food fight". Others of us have our bags packed for the day you start accepting American middle aged females.

Sofie, Madeline, Joelle, Bruce, Mac, Patsy, Gail, Granny, Katherine, Brian, Erin, Megan, Emma, Will and Lynn.

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September 7, 2003

Today as we trimmed more of Tina's overgrown pad, we exposed two large rotten areas of dead and dying flesh on the bottom of her left front foot. We are thankful to Tina's keepers at the Greater Vancouver Zoo for soaking her feet on a regular basis. Foot soaks are what prevented the wounds from becoming infected. 

Although Tina's toes cause her a great deal of pain, we believe these rotten areas, located in the center of her foot, make it difficult for her to walk without experiencing additional pain. The rotten areas have been opened up and cleaned out, making it easier for oxygen to get to the wound and help it to heal.

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September 5, 3:30PM CT

Tina went outside again today. This time she led and Tarra followed. She spent time in the shade and then stood next to the gate. The bugs did not really agitate her as they have in the past. Tarra was quite silly and kept trying to get Tina to play.  She would chatter and back up to her, playfully swishing her tail around Tina's face. Tina was not interested in playing with Tarra but did enjoy using her as a scratching post. She spent several minutes giving herself a shower and then returned to the barn with Tarra right behind.

This time Tina led the way outside
This time Tina led the way outside
Just a little bit farther, now....
where they spent several minutes in a shady spot
Coming back in...
... and then back to the barn again.
The path home
Miss Tina

Once inside the barn we spent time trimming her feet again. She was even calmer today then yesterday. We were able to trim most of the excess pad from her left front foot as well as excess pad from her right back foot.

Time for another foot trim (on another foot)
Another foot gets trimmed

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September 4, 2003

Today we trimmed Tina's feet for the first time. She was awesome!

Her daily foot soaks have successfully arrested the infection in her feet and her homeopathy treatments have promoted healing. Now our job is to trim away the excess pad so that Tina is standing level on her feet. She had five inches of overgrown pad on the inside of both front feet. This has caused her to stand as if she has a wedge under her feet. As result, all of her weight, all 9500 pounds, is on her outside toenails. This is one reason why Tina has had such severe foot and nail problems. All that weight on one spot caused bruising which became chronic and infected.

At first when we started trimming Tina was nervous, but after a few minutes when she realized we were not going to hurt her she relaxed and became very cooperative. The treats helped as well! 

In this first session we were able to trim nearly half of the excess growth from her right front foot. Even though her outside toes are still extremely sore she was cooperative and patient.

Tina is on her way to healthy feet.

Getting everything ready

Getting everything ready for Tina's foot trim

Hmmmm... let's see now

What a Good Girl!

Yuk. Overgrown

Before trimming

On the way to a heathier foot.

After trimming

September 3 , 2003

Tina is fine, not to worry. A wise person once said, "No news is good news." There have been no entries because there is nothing new to tell. Tina continues to make her way through the barn each morning like a champ. Without hesitation she leaves the barn. Like clockwork some flying insect buzzes around her head, she does her bug-be-gone dance and then after a few minutes returns to the barn.

She continues to display her head bobbing, neurotic behavior at times which is to be expected. This habit has been a part of her life for so long it is second nature. She does not think, "Oh I am bored, I will bob." It just is part of her now. Our job is to help her recover, layer by layer. We do this by changing her diet, her management, providing dietary supplements and homeopathy to help her move through her processing. It takes time so please be patient with her. Along with your love and concern, Tina deserves your compassion and patience.

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