November 16, 2011
Over at Q — Caregiver Richard tells us renovations are moving right along at the Phase 1 Barn! The new training area is expanded, and improved Protected Contact barriers in the training area will be more sophisticated than the old ones, allowing Caregivers better access to the Girls during the training process. Ele-comfort will be enhanced with new and improved adjustable foot rests, and the taller barrier will be even safer for Caregivers. As the new barriers are installed, they have to be painted, which is somewhat of a challenge because it means Caregivers have to keep away wandering trunks and tails until the paint dries. With all the construction, which involves noisy power tools and even noisier large vehicles in and out, things can get exciting. Liz and Frieda don't seem interested, but it's not uncommon for Billie to get excited about the progress. Every once in a while she'll follow a vehicle (she's still on her side of the fence, of course) up the hill and trumpet loudly, which is her way of warning the workers to "Please keep your distance, thankyouverymuch."
After nights spent in the barn at Phase II, now that the weather has turned colder, Deb, Ronnie and Minnie have been eager to rush down the alley to take advantage of their big meadows and hilly woods. Minnie is known to get a serious case of cabin fever, but lately Debbie and Ronnie, too, have almost arrived ahead of their Caregivers Sam and Kelly in their rush to get out into the pasture. The Girls have been enjoying soaking up the morning sunshine as it warms the fields and they are given their first few flakes of hay for breakfast!
In Asia — A few nights ago, Tarra went toward the lake with Shirley and came back to the barn by mid morning. She hung out with Sis and Winks all day and was seen surreptitiously eating hay off Sissy's back. Tarra is also rumbling and becoming more and more vocal with her Caregivers and the elephants as the days progress, which is definitely a great sign, one that makes all of us SO HAPPY! She's still sometimes quiet and reserved, still not completely back to normal, but making strides in that direction now, according to Caregivers Laurie and Suz. Caregivers Suz and Clint have noticed Tarra seems to be particularly full of her normal spunk at the 10pm feedings, exhibiting Trunk–Extension–Sniff behaviors (aka noodle nose). In this behavior, Tarra will extend and stretch her trunk out rigidly, pointing her "finger" at the end of it towards an object. Then it seems she relaxes all the 40,000 muscles found in her trunk, and, well, like a wet noodle, makes it shimmy up and down so it waves out. This display is accompanied by head bobbing and bugged-out eyes. It usually means Tarra is SUPER excited and will also be somewhat grabby, so Caregivers have learned to stay clear, but despite having to dodge Tarra's trunk, they are excited nonetheless to see her so animated again. Yesterday, Suz went behind the barn and saw Shirley and Tarra greeting each other. Shirley had her trunk over Tarra's head, and her mouth open…and Tarra was actually scratching the top of her head on the inside of Shirley's mouth. "Made me smile…" said Caregiver Suz.