August 29, 2011
The other day at Q-Barn, the peaceful afternoon was broken by loud squeaks coming from the Pond Yard. Concerned that something was wrong, a couple of Caregivers rushed over to see what was happening. Instead of an emergency, they saw Debbie and Ronnie happily playing in the pond, the ecstatic squeaks coming from Debbie. Debbie is normally so quiet—we're not used to her noises, even in play.
The girls romped around in the pond, tossing their heads and trunks everywhere. When they noticed their Caregivers watching, they rushed over to the fence line. There's only a tiny strip of bank along the fence, but Debbie and Ronnie crammed themselves onto it just to say ‘hello' to their Caregivers. We can sometimes forget how tall Debbie is…until she puts her head all the way over the fence without even trying. This wasn't an aggressive gesture (as it sometimes can be when Minnie does it), but more a playful greeting. Ronnie is much too short for this, so she just wiggled and dusted next to Debbie, while her friend looked down at her Caregivers from her immense height.
In Africa, Flora and Tange have been moving around quite a bit this week. They have been on the Plateau, at the Pipeline, and in both the Eastern and Western areas closer to the barn. They have not spent a great deal of time on the Plateau for the most part, so it was surprising when they stayed there not long ago for 2 or 3 days in a row. There are wooded valleys between the Plateau and barn, Plateau and Pipeline, Pipeline and barn, and even one in the Southwest corner below the Western Plains, so they do have quite a trek to move from one area to another. These valleys provide lots of shade if they want a break from the sun, and also give Flora plenty of big, tall yummy things to push down! It also gives Caregivers plenty of opportunities to keep up their chain saw skills.
Occasionally we get questions regarding the elephants' love of water and/or swimming. The Asian ladies seem to love water, and sometimes go swimming a few times a day. On hot days, Elecam viewers may be treated to elephants bobbing around in their muddy ponds, rolling around to submerge their bulk in the cool water, and even resting almost completely underwater—except for the tops of their heads and faces, with trunks sticking up like snorkels. Some of the Girls even nap this way, gently bobbing in the water while the world keeps going on around them.
On the other hand, the Africans don't seem to have the same need to be in the water. Here, the African girls had a lovely pond dug for them a few years back, but they never wanted to wade out into the middle to swim. They would look at it, go to the edge, get their feet wet and spray themselves, get muddy along the banks… but then leave and head off to other adventures.
Tange and Flora prefer to indulge in their self-made mud wallows. They either fill up with rainwater, or Caregivers add water from the nifty fire hose, and both Ladies utilize this to the fullest. At any given time, you can look out across the yard and see an elephant rump in the air, front legs and face down in a deep mud hole giving themselves a thorough spray bath and new coating of mud. While both Girls enjoy this, Tange tends to be the more animated one, getting her floppy ears and trunk in on everything. She even stirs the mud up into a sticky mess, then lies down and rolls around in it for good measure.