August 13, 2012
In Africa – The Elephant Sanctuary’s rolling hills are blanketed with rich Pine forests and broad grassy valleys, all devoted to our Girls for their roaming, grazing and browsing pleasure. While the Asian Girls can quickly disappear and be lost amidst the dense Pine trees, the Africans are more easily located by the crisp cracking and popping noises which echo through the forests as they eagerly knock down one tree after another while exploring their acres and acres of habitat. While the elephants are perfectly content munching on the Pines that populate their Sanctuary, trees come in many “flavors” and our Girls do enjoy variety. Last week, two of our local friends, Kenny and Lanette, contacted us about a large Maple tree, recently cut down, which they thought the Girls might enjoy. Caregivers Angela and Kristy seized the opportunity to provide some wonderful enrichment and went to pick up all the branches to use as browse for the Girls.
According to Caregiver Kristy, “Maple is the Africans’ favorite type of browse. We also dropped a bunch off at Asia and Q-barn for those girls. It’s one way we can be Green. Instead of the tree being thrown away, we were able to use it for enrichment for the Girls and they greatly appreciated it. Maintenance even went and collected all the logs and stumps to be used to heat the barn for Winter.”
Both of the Girls fully enjoyed the tasty Maple as they ate the leaves off first, then, using their tusks, stripped the bark clean and eventually munched down on the great branches til they were nothing more than sticks. Caregiver Kristy commented, “The stick that is in the photo is the remains of what was a large leaf-covered branch. Browse does not last long when Flora gets hold of it.”
In Asia – The sharing of the Maple branches was quite a treat for the Asian Girls as well. Caregiver Brianna describes Misty’s enjoyment, “Katie and I put a huge branch along the top of the fence (to simulate natural browse), and Misty went over to it and began gingerly picking leaves off of it. Eventually she got impatient and wanted the whole branch, so she wrapped her trunk around the biggest part of the branch and yanked it down forcefully. The branch fell, bounced off of her forehead, and landed right in front of her.” Though the Caregivers could not help but laugh at the sight, Misty seemed unfazed and she continued munching to her heart’s content.
Over at Q - The Girls have been enjoying their baths during these hot summer days with the new powerful fire hose. Each morning at Q, the Caregivers will bring the hose inside the barn, turn it on and offer the Girls a bath (assuming they are in the barn and didn’t choose to spend the night out under the stars). If the girls walk away, then Caregivers know they are not interested in a bath that morning. But if the girls walk up to the stream, then bath time is on!
A few days ago, Caregiver Kelly offered a bath to Deb and Ron. Apparently, Ronnie wasn't interested at first and walked away, but Deb eagerly walked into the stream of water to soak it all up. After bathing Deb for about 10 minutes, Ronnie had a change of heart and decided she wanted in as well and approached the water stream. According to Caregiver / Firehose Controller Kelly, “Things were going pretty normal until Ronnie started getting super excited! Deb and Ron started squeaking, trunk popping and blowing in excitement. Then suddenly Ronnie started getting even more excited and began spinning in circles and kicking her back legs. Usually when one elephant gets excited, the whole bunch gets excited, so Debbie and Ronnie started running in circles in the stall! Running around throwing water with their trunks, squeaking and chirping and kicking, they were like little kids at a water park!”
Meanwhile, out in the habitat, Caregiver Justina was delivering Minnie her morning breakfast when Min suddently heard all the commotion. So, curious to see what it was all about, Minnie left her breakfast and ran back to the barn to see what was going on. Caregiver Kelly recounts, “As she came running into the barn, Deb and Ron got even more excited! Minnie started running in and out of the barn, back and forth and throwing hay with excitement! I pictured her as a little kid running around with her hands up in the air screaming for joy! The three girls were climbing the bars, spinning and running—it was a sight we had never seen before!”
Caregiver Kelly was laughing out loud in happiness to see these girls enjoying life so, and she explained "It is so amazing and special to see pure joy and happiness from these girls who have had such a long hard life for so many years." Kelly described it as one of her happiest moments ever experienced at The Sanctuary.
Celebrating Tina Finding Sanctuary
This Saturday marked the anniversary of dear Tina’s arrival in Sanctuary. An excerpt from Tina’s memorial page gives us insight into the life of a captive born elephant: “On August 11, 2003, after a 3000 mile, 3.5 day, cross-country trip, Tina arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary….. She was our eighth resident, our first Canadian and the first captive born elephant to join our herd.”
Her time with us was too short: on July 21, 2004, less than one year after her arrival in Sanctuary and at the young age of 34, Tina passed away.
Learn more about Tina, her 16 siblings and her devoted caregivers by visiting her memorial page.