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By: The Elephant Sanctuary

February 27, 2015

Valentine’s Day at Asia Barn

Tarra in foreground, Shirley in back. Sissy in waaaaa back.
Tarra in foreground, Shirley in back, Sissy in waaaaaay back

Valentine’s Day is not just a “Hallmark holiday”—at The Elephant Sanctuary, it’s also a “birthday.” In keeping with longstanding tradition, we celebrate Tarra (now age 41) on February 14.

With cooler temperatures on the 14th, the Girls at Asia decided to linger in their barn a little longer before heading out for the day. While the elephants were indoors, Caregivers worked to place some special enrichment out in the habitat for them.

“We set a fruit popsicle on some hay for Tarra up by North Gate – an area of the habitat farther away from the barn that’s frequented by Shirley and Tarra,” said Caregiver Nicole. “Despite our sneakiness, Shirley heard the ATVs and so started to head our way. Tarra, in trying to figure out where everyone was, started making her way towards the pond somewhat later, so Shirley had a good lead on her. We had to put Tarra’s popsicle away for a minute so Shirley wouldn’t devour it before the birthday girl could get there.

“Tarra immediately tried putting the whole thing in her mouth like she does with all of her treats. Maybe it was too cold or too large for her, but she dropped it on the ground and then started sucking the berries from the ice with her trunk. When that didn’t work out, she put it back in her mouth and crushed off a big chunk with her molars. She repeated this process until there were only a few pieces left, at which point Shirley decided she needed to try some.”

Tarra, seeing Shirley coming for her birthday popsicle.
Tarra –seeing Shirley coming for her birthday popsicle– picked up every last piece
before heading further into the Asia Habitat, leaving Shirley to search for leftovers
that were nowhere to be found.



Also at Asia Barn, Sissy and Winkie’s Valentine’s Day enrichment included some paper bags cut into heart-shaped banners, sprinkled with water and spice (cinnamon is a favorite for these two). The banners were then “pasted” to trees with peanut butter.

“When Sissy emerged from the barn, she showed signs of excitement, making her ‘pop-pop’ sound with her trunk,” Caregiver Nicole continued. “She walked over to the trees, curled up her trunk, and gave the decorations a good sniff. Sissy opted to pass on the cinnamon paper, instead focusing her attention toward some hay we’d scattered in the nearby woods. By this time, Winkie –more than pleased to see her Valentine– walked over to peel the hearts from the tree with her trunk, placing them on her tongue. She scraped off as much of the remaining peanut butter as she could from the tree-bark, and rubbed it onto her tongue. If any hearts fell to the ground, she was sure to pick them up before joining Sissy for some hay.”

An Update on Frieda
Many thanks to our supporters for all the well-wishes for Frieda’s health. While our integrated veterinary and husbandry team continues to monitor her closely, Frieda has gained some weight – slowly but surely. As mentioned in an earlier EleNote, Frieda arrived at Sanctuary with arthritis and osteomyelitis, chronic health conditions that are unfortunately common in elephants from an entertainment background. Despite these health challenges, in recent days Frieda has been observed walking around the Q Habitat (particularly when it’s sunny), and is socializing more normally with her best friends, Liz and Billie. Said Caregiver Justina, “She might be moving slower, but she’s still the ‘trailblazer.’”

Frieda and Billie
Frieda and Billie


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