January 28, 2012

In Asia -
It was recently a spa day for some of the Girls at Asia. Bathing is great for our Girls' skin and also optimizes foot care, which becomes much easier and faster on clean, pre-soaked feet. Tarra and Shirley were off exploring the habitat, but Dulary, Misty, Sissy, and Winks all got a good soaking. Although Sis and Winks initially took a few steps away from the spray, they came back forward afterward, encouraged by some yummy granola. (The Girls love granola!!) Since her experience at the Frank Buck Zoo, when she was trapped under flood waters for over 24 hours, Sissy can sometimes be wary of water initially. When bath time started, she left the stall and gave Winks her "privacy." However, Sissy's come a long way with conquering her fear of water, and midway through she decided she'd return and join in bath time.

Winkie has really taken to Director of Elephant Husbandry Steve, and is very good-natured with him. After the painful experiences some of our Girls have had at the hands of humans prior to coming to live at The Sanctuary, they sometimes have a hard time learning to trust new people. Steve, too, has grown very fond of Winkie, and he has made it a personal goal to help her overcome some of her trust issues with elephant care staff. Steve says, "We are working with Winkie and new staff to see if we can adjust her "perspective" on people. My responsibility is to show Winkie everyone is okay. We are all working together to adjust our working around Winkie to minimize her aggressive displays and maximize her calm, good natured interactions …… I'm working side-by-side with new people to try to show Winkie these folks are GOOD PEOPLE. That's my goal. I just want our Girls to know, no matter what they went through before coming to sanctuary, that now they're okay." 


Director of Elephant Husbandry Steve Smith has been working with Winkie
to help her overcome her trust issues.


Dulary recovered from her urinary problem, but has given us a bit of a scare with the recurrence of her gastro-intestinal issue that we saw last year. According to Steve, Dr. Scott, and Dr. Mikota, she appears to be suffering from colic, and thankfully we caught it early. The devoted elephant care staff has been by Dulary's side to all hours of the night. They've been monitoring her closely, walking her up and down the length of the barn to help ease her discomfort. And how do they get her to walk, when her GI problems make her not want to eat, or follow for a treat? They gently and encouragingly call her name, and she obligingly follows. Back and forth, her Caregivers and Director of Elephant Husbandry Steve have been taking turns walking and talking with Dulary. She has been an excellent patient, and very cooperative for examinations and treatment.

Dr. Mikota, our new Vet Tech Deb, and Dr. Scott have been giving her fluids since she has not had much of an appetite. Her Caregivers have been feeding her lots of lettuce and banana leaves which she seems to enjoy. Caregivers also filled a horse trough full of Gatorade to try and help with Dulary's rehydration. However, Misty and Dulary weren't as interested in drinking it as they were playing with its container. (It's now in pieces - can we add a horse trough to the Wish List, please?) When Caregivers were encouraging Dulary to walk through her yard to try to alleviate her discomfort, she reached a certain point, realized she had ventured a little further than she liked from Misty, and did an about face and rushed back to join her.

Misty and Dulary's exuberance at reuniting, whether they have been apart for two minutes or twenty, is legendary. They greeted each other warmly, with lots of rumbling and happy vocalizations, ear flapping and trunk touching. Since Caregivers have been offering Dulary everything they can think of to encourage her appetite (they've been spending time on their days off wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart), Misty has been reaping some of the rewards of being best friends with the patient. While Dulary's energy level has been up over the past few days, and her appetite has improved, we are still monitoring her carefully and taking care of her needs until we can be sure she is on the road to recovery. Whenever one of our Girls is not feeling well, we ourselves are sick with concern.

Misty and Dulary
Misty and Dulary are never far away from each other.



From Africa -
Caregiver Maddie writes: "I was mixing diets this morning and when I looked through the window into the barn I noticed a gray bundle on the floor. It took me a second but I realized it was a baby pigeon that fell from its nest. It was lying on the floor inside one of Tange's stalls. As I quickly rinsed the molasses from my hands I watched Tange. It seemed like she was purposely avoiding the area. It was lying in the front of her stall and she would look in that direction then walk to the back and move into her other stall. On one pass she reached out her trunk towards the pigeon …. she hovered just behind it, sniffing, then walked away. She did that twice before I was able to get in there to get the baby pigeon out.

It was amazing that she could have easily squashed the poor thing but she almost seemed concerned. I am aware that I could be completely projecting feelings onto Tange that weren't there. But I like to think that she recognized that it was hurt and chose to leave it alone. She definitely doesn't hesitate to swing at the adult pigeons that get too close to her food. After I removed the baby she came back into that stall and sniffed all around where it was. Who knows how long she had to tiptoe around it. It's an awfully small thing for a big Girl like her to carefully avoid.

Sadly, the pigeon was too badly hurt and didn't make it, but Tange did her best to give it a chance."

Over at Q -
All of the Girls have been stellar students of PC, and we've been making some wonderful progress. At Q, Steve and the vet care staff recently did foot care on Minnie's two front cracked nails, and she was calm and cooperative. One lucky Elecam viewer was able to catch Minnie doing some PC training. She wrote "I just was watching what appeared to be the PC training on the Q Elecam. That elephant is brilliant - raising her trunk and then each leg while following the caretakers signals…Anyway - thanks for this glimpse of the routine!"

We are putting together a slideshow of our Girls and Elephant Health Care and PC training at The Elephant Sanctuary. We will let you know when we post it. Your continued support is vital to our Girls' health care program. Thank you.