July 5, 2010

With the high temperatures, we are always looking for ways to help the Girls stay cool. During the hot months, one of the treats we prepare for them at the New Asian Barn are frozen fruit pops. Remember freezing fruit juice in ice cube trays when you were young?
Our recipe for "chilling" is to take empty apple cider vinegar containers (1 quart size) and cut the tops off, leaving us with a very large "cup." We then cut up the Girls' favorite fruits into bite sized pieces and fill the container with watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, bananas, apples and oranges. Next, we mix a batch of Gatorade®, half strength, to reduce the amount of sugar, yet still supply electrolytes. We pour the diluted Gatorade over the fruit, filling it up to the brim and pop it in the freezer overnight. These cool treats are ready for the next day.
The ladies eat them up in varying style. They usually seem determined to keep the frozen treats in their mouths as long as possible, slurping the juice as it melts, while keeping their mouths slightly open, venting the cold a bit. Shirley took the whole treat in her mouth, letting half of it drop out a couple of minutes later as she chewed and swallowed the part that remained. Then quickly she grabbed the dropped half and popped it back in her mouth to finish it off. Misty was the loudest "slurper." With wide eyes, she stood there motionless, mouth half open, slurping for about five minutes while the "popsicle" slowly melted in her mouth. Lots of rumbles and a big smile were a definite giveaway that although she stood very still, which is somewhat unusual for Misty, the treat was much appreciated.

Dulary slurping her treat
Dulary slurping on her frozen fruit pop, which was not nearly as loud as Misty's technique!

It may seem that a many of our accounts about the Divas this time of year are about water: Ponds, puddles, creeks, and hoses. It just goes with the territory and the 90+ degree weather. One hot afternoon recently, Lottie and Minnie visited the lower pond closer to the barn, while Debbie and Ronnie dusted next door in the Night Yard.
As has been described, each of the ladies has her own preference when it comes to cooling off, and it varies and changes according to the moment. Ronnie, for example, is our resident dusting queen, but when she takes a time out for the hose, she makes it count. One day this week, after Debbie was finished watering and moved away to scratch, Ronnie stepped up to take her turn. A caregiver handed her the water hose which she preferred tucked into the right side of her mouth. If she gets it in the left side, she always fidgets it around until it sits nicely on the right side. All the while, she dusted with her trunk, swinging it here and there to make sure no bugs could bite her. Once she had her fill of drinking, she took the hose out of her mouth and held it with her trunk with about 1 1/2 feet dangling freely.
When Ronnie got the hose set just right, she started to swing and swat with intent, all around her body in her own unique pattern. She hurled it between her front legs and up under her belly, splashing and wetting her hind legs as well. Then she swung a few times to the left, then to the right, then alternated right/left/right/left, and finally sailed it up and over her head, occasionally bringing it back into her mouth to get a trunk full of water in order to shower herself with a big blowing spritz.
A subsequent morning, Ronnie spent much more time with the swinging/swatting exercise, using big, swift smacking strokes to get the job done. She and the caregiver were both in the shade, both taking a break from the direct sun. The caregiver turned away for a split second, and WHOOSH! A large stream from the hose came shooting through the fence and right up her back! That was a cold shocker in the heat! Ronnie kept swinging for the fences, inadvertently giving the caregiver a few more shots and a nice cold shower. Have you ever walked into a pool or lake of cold water and as the water line creeps up, the cold sensation makes you catch your breath? Same here, wow! All in a day's work... the best entertainment is free.
This week in Africa, Flora and Tange have been all over the habitat: on the plateau pulling up blackberry bushes, in the Valley looking for the best place to keep cool, and searching for a mud hole that had not dried out. The Girls ended their expansive explorations back at the barn. We filled some of their mud holes with water and gave them tasty treats while waiting for shade to move in behind the barn. It was an easy and quiet week.
Shirley blessed the Sanctuary with her arrival eleven years ago on July 6, 1999.

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