September 21, 2009

On Saturday a group of volunteers came to Africa and painted the outside corral. Some volunteers left with green speckles all over them, a little souvenir from Africa. The girls left the painted area and walked up to the Plateau, far away from the painters. The next day they were found on the Pipeline, just a little bit closer to the barn. Today (Monday) they came back to the barn to check out their newly-painted fence.

This week Minnie has discovered how much fun it can be to take apart the thick cable on the fencing around her water corral. Perhaps she does it partly to be entertained as she watches the caregivers put it back up. The other day, while one caregiver put up cable, another offered the girls some hay a short distance away to allow enough space for all to work comfortably.

Minnie got excited by the 4-wheeler and ran a little way across the pasture. She dug up some dirt, tossed some long weeds in the air, and then backed up to small rise. Lottie watched her sister's antics from a distance, munching grass and dusting. Then, Minnie moved through the pasture toward Lottie. She found another small hill and lay down against it on her right side, swinging her left front and rear legs up and down. Caregivers were the ones most entertained during this session of fence repair!

People ask who our favorite elephant is, and we hear ourselves giving the very parental response, “I don’t have a favorite,” but it really is true. The ladies all have these individual qualities about them that capture your heart and all that results is love.  Shirley is our beloved grandma, so strong on the outside and warm and tender on the inside. To be lucky enough to receive one of her soft smiles and watch how she’s cared for her sisters, is to catch a glimpse of a true big sister. And to see her moments where she allows herself to not have to be strong, absolutely pulls at your heart.

Tarra, besides being the reason this place exists, is so welcoming to everything. She is the only one of the ladies who routinely visits with everyone. She has opened herself to not only all of her sisters, but even a dog.  And at times, has put her own wanderings aside for both her beloved Bella and to be with her sisters when they have truly needed someone to be with. Sissy is total and utter softness. It shows in her face and in her actions. She took Winkie under her wing a long time ago, even though it has meant an increased distance from the other girls at times, and still she relishes her time with her closest sister. Winkie is the picture of sensitivity. With her, the affect things have on her is visible. Her happiness is palpable; she has such a baby smile and her silliness with her sister fills your heart.  But when things seem to be a bit much for her, she can pull away and turn inside herself. This year she has shown much growth and continues to heal and open in such an impressive way.

And Misty and Dulary just epitomize the love of life. I know they are two separate elephants, but if you watch them they are like one, each one's action always causing a reaction in the other. Between the “burping”, grunting and trumpets you receive every time you approach, you begin to realize that they think most things are absolutely wonderful. If Misty’s excited, Dulary becomes excited and if Dulary runs, Misty is soon to follow - a little less gracefully, but she’s coming. They both smile when they sleep and seem to be in a permanent state of contentment. There is not a single day the two of them don’t make you smile and laugh.  It is so difficult to put into words why you can’t just pick one and what is so wonderful about each - it’s just that feeling in your being that you get in their presence and their ability to make your eyes tear up, like a proud parent, when you think of how amazing they are.

Tarra & Bella will be featured in Unlikely Animal Friends> premiering Saturday 9/26 at 8pm on National Geographic Channel. Click on this link for information, more airings, and some video from the show.

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