February 28, 2011
The weather has been fabulous; it is still only February and yet the other night would have been spectacular had it been May. It was a night full of the things that are most missed about the summer, yet can somehow be forgotten until you are immersed in it. The moon was three quarters full, illuminating the woods with a silvery glow, and making the girls visible to the naked eye without the use of a flashlight. The air was filled with the noises of spring - the early crickets were chirping and the evening peepers out in full force. And it was more than the lonely, solitary peep of earlier in the week; this night masses of frogs came out of their frost, communicating and celebrating in the joy of the warm temperatures. With all the breezy days that have come and gone over the past couple of weeks, this night was the first time a warm breeze blew through the valleys and woods that our Girls call home, and it felt wonderful.
This lovely spring-like weather finds the African Girls, Tange and Flora, switching gears and spending more time outside than in. At first it took Flora a little time to adjust. When the weather is cold and the Girls have access to the barn or are closed in, Tange and Flora are separated, each with two full stalls, so that Flora is sure to have her own space. But now that spring is approaching, they are spending more nights out on terra firma, reconnecting with their natural surroundings. Since they are not physically separated in their habitat, Flora and Tange have to relearn their boundaries with one another. They usually go in cycles with this and are able to gently work things out within a week or two.
It is becoming more common for them to take off on adventures on their own, and sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find them. Although they have been living domestically for the majority of their lives, these elephants will still primarily rely on their natural instincts to guide them. So when the monsoon-like rains hit this week, Tange and Flora disappeared into the forest for shelter. It was amazing to see them emerge with only the top of their backs and heads wet and the rest of their bodies dry.
At this point it’s hard to know who is enjoying all of this more – the Girls, the caregivers, the dogs, or our wildlife. The weather has allowed the ladies to spend more nights outside than Februarys of the past. Still the New Asian herd seems somewhat tentative, not yet leaving the three areas closest to the barn; perhaps they aren’t convinced that the cold weather has completely gone and want to be close to their warm barns!
In the mornings the elephants are comfortable and at ease with their best friends. The other morning, Ronnie and Debbie had breakfast up in the South habitat. When they came down, Ronnie returned to the Night Yard Extension while Debbie made her way into the Night Yard. They were not separated, per se, as the two yards are connected. After wandering around for a little while, neither particularly concerned with the absence of the other, Debbie settled down to take her usual late morning/early afternoon nap. Ronnie continued exploring, finally entering the Night Yard. She paused and looked around for a while, until she located the "Debbie lump" up near the trees. She meandered over to her friend, and performed her usual greeting of poking Debbie in the eye. Debbie responded by sniffing Ronnie’s feet, all while still lying down. Ronnie was then content to "stand guard" while Debbie continued on with her nap.
On Thursday, March 3rd we mark Tarra's 16th and Flora's 7th anniversaries in sanctuary.