May 26, 2012

In Asia

Tarra opens wide to get a cool refreshing drink.


Tarra and Shirley
Tarra and Shirley eagerly approached Caregivers Clint and Kristy
when they delivered water in the water wagon.

When Caregivers brought out the water wagon into the habitat the other day to give the Girls a refreshing drink of fresh water, Tarra was somewhere around the lake, hidden from view. Once Caregiver Laurie shut off the four-wheeler, Tarra roared excitedly and began calling loudly, apparently for Shirley, who was exploring on the far end of Right field. Laurie heard Tarra roar, and she called a greeting in return. Minutes later Tarra appeared, running excitedly. Tarra and Shirley were having such a great time playing and cooling off that they probably got showered with just as much, if not more water, than they drank—they were having such a great time playing and cooling off.

Have you been checking The Elephant Sanctuary's Facebook and YouTube pages for new Elecam Encounters? We uploaded a new video showing just how sneaky Miss Tarra is when it comes to stealing hay.

4/18/2012 @ 4:40 on the Asian Barn Camera in the Asian Habitat

Tarra loves to steal hay from her "sisters" Sissy and Winkie, but they are on to her game. Notice how she nonchalantly attempts to sidle in unnoticed, until Sissy smartly picks up her hay to try to keep it out of Tarra's reach. Asian elephants consume approximately 1.3% of their body mass daily. In addition to grazing on native grasses and browsing on natural leaves, our elephants eat about a bale of hay and several pounds of produce a day.

Tune into the Elecam daily for updates on all of the Girls and their activities!

Over at Q

Billie has been rebuilding trust with humans and making advances in her Protected Contact training.

Recently, we've noticed a bittersweet change in Billie. Billie rarely used to reach out with her trunk to sniff, to smell, to investigate. But she is beginning to do so more often and in a calm, gentle way. She is slowly and carefully reaching out with her trunk to smell and to investigate, but sometimes if she touches Director of Elephant Husbandry Steve's or a Caregiver's hand, her trunk darts back away apprehensively. We can only surmise that in her past before Sanctuary, any contact she initiated was met with punishment. How sad for an animal that typically, during a natural greeting, greets and investigates with its trunk. Says Steve, "The other thing I've seen with Billie, and I've never seen this with any other elephant in all my years working with elephants, is Billie sometimes sticks her trunk out with her fingerlike projection tightly held to the straight, flat opposite edge of her trunk, as if she's protecting the inside of her trunk. Again, I have to wonder if her greeting behavior was, in her sad past, met with punishment." We have a long way to go with Billie, but with her compassionate Caregivers' encouragement, we hope to rebuild her trust and uplift her to a better place, to a place where she knows that there is no longer is punishment in her life. We want her to realize there are people surrounding her who want only to see her at peace.

At Africa

Tange prefers the shower mimics a gently falling rain when it comes to her sprinkler enrichment.

This past Sunday, Caregiver Angela reassembled the African Elephant fire hose "sprinkler" for Tange and Flora. She writes, "It was a big hit last summer, and this year promises to be no different! As usual, Tange enjoyed a shower, but only a shower. She still prefers to catch the falling water from a distance so that it mimics a steady rainfall. She drank from it, let it roll over her face and behind her ears, flapping them for good measure. She turned this way and that, making sure her entire body got sprinkled on several times. Once she was satisfied with her first summer sprinkler session, she sauntered off to a favorite mud hole, and finished the job herself by wallowing, face planting, splashing and mud bathing. Eventually, she climbed out and, as Flora wandered by on her way to the sprinkler, Tange started her usual enthusiastic dusting.

Flora still likes the hard shower pressure of the hose close-up. She came over, stood head on and opened her mouth wide to allow the steady, narrow stream to go into her mouth. After several swallows, she began her typical routine of moving all around so that ever single part of her body got blasted with the refreshing water stream. She lowered her head to allow the water to stream behind her ears, catching some in her trunk as it escaped off the bottom edge by her shoulder, and used that to spritz her other side, and to squirt into her mouth. Her ears flapped back and forth throughout, helping to cool her off as she went. Today was a first for Flora and myself with the fire hose sprinkler in a most pleasant way. Usually Tange is the "silly" one-squishing, rolling, wiggling, etc. Today, however, Flora was not to be outdone. To my surprise, she lowered her bulk to the wet sand, and began scooting and wriggling around to scratch her belly and legs. She went all the way over onto her left side, then propped her face/trunk against the fence and scratched and squished her face and ear along the post, allowing the water to jet off her head, down her face and over her hears and feet. Sitting up on her haunches—reminding me of Minnie and her Big Blue Ball antics—Flora lavished in the cool water hitting her sun-baked wrinkles. She held her head up high, twisting and turning her trunk over her head and face, flapping her ears, and wiggling her bottom across the wet sand. She looked like a little kid, having a wonderful time without a care in the world. And to think, this was just day one with the sprinkler this year. Think of all the silliness yet to come!"


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