May 16, 2011
This past week, warmer temperatures arrived—at least for a while. Minnie's swims in the pond become a daily occurrence as the weather heats up. With the pond being so close to the barn, it affords Caregivers the delightful opportunity to see her really cut loose. On Wednesday afternoon, Minnie's white "boomer ball" was taking the brunt of her antics. She would smash it into the pond's muddy wall until it became stuck, and then vigorously dig it out, as if it were trying to hide from her. Keep in mind, this ball has spent so much time in the pond that it has gradually filled with water, decreasing its buoyancy to the point where only the very top breaks the surface of the water. So when Minnie kicks at it, it can disappear quite thoroughly for a few seconds. This drives Minnie wild as she searches for it. A small, severely flattened blue ball was also part of the festivities. Minnie would grab it and throw it at her own head and side, seemingly delighted whenever it hit her.
Before, if Minnie saw Caregivers watching or videotaping her, she would stop and come over to investigate. Now she can plainly see us, but pays us no mind. It is truly wonderful that she allows us to share her playtime with her.
Flora and Tange stayed around the barn some, then began hanging out at the Pipeline, trading off with spending time down in North Woods Valley. Last Sunday night, the Ladies stayed tucked back into the woods and did not make an appearance for their 10 pm feed. Angela heard what she thought was the two of them making their way up through the woods to the Plateau Sunday night, but they never arrived where she was waiting and calling. (Perhaps she didn't want to know what was making that much noise moving through the trees as her flashlight died!) It is not uncommon for the African elephants to stay deep in the valleys at night in the warm weather, foregoing their late night snack for the preferred wild forage. One of the many signs of true Sanctuary, it is all up to them. Monday morning they were waiting for breakfast at the Plateau, but made their way back to the Pipeline by lunchtime.
Lately Flora and Tange have been spending a lot more time on the Plateau. They have plenty of grass up there now with all of the rain we have had, so they trade off with grazing in the sun to tucking into the trees, perhaps for a bit of shade on occasion. The heat doesn't really seem to bother them (of course in their native Africa, it would be much hotter), and they appear to be content even when their human counterparts look on, sweltering in the shadow of a tall tree. The rain has helped the gardens and the rest of the foliage, so now we have many shades of bright, healthy greens everywhere. From the Plateau, the Ladies are able to greet passers-by, and even give bursts of silly play and loud trumpets when vehicles or tractors roll by to add a dose of excitement to their otherwise quiet day.
Summer-like temperatures mean one of two things for our Ladies in the Asian habitat: hiding in the shade of the trees or going for swims. Dulary and Misty prefer the latter. Last week they were already up to two swims daily, the first one being around 10 am, after they polished off all of their hay from their first feed of the morning. The second swim was after naps, around 3 or 4 pm. As the temperatures continue to increase, so will the frequency of their bathing. Further into the season, it will not be unusual to see them in the pond upon Caregivers' arrival in the morning and during their departure in the evening. Sissy and Winkie enjoy both activities: hiding in the woods during the afternoon hours and peeking out to go for a quick swim and a little grazing before they return to the cooler shade.
Shirley and Tarra are very similar in their warm weather habits. When Caregivers arrived with their food first thing the other morning, the Girls were already tucked into a little nook of trees that line the lake. This nice area not only offers shade all day, but a cool muddy area closer to the water's edge. It also allows for them to go for a swim or take a drink without having to walk through a grassy area in full, hot sun—good for our 63-year-old grandma Shirley. And whenever they want to relocate or explore, they wait until the sun goes down and the temperatures drop, and then the walking and grazing commences.