March 8, 2010

Sissy has always been given the water hose when she would like a drink.  She has partial trunk paralysis, and although she eats fine, she never seemed to have mastered the art of drinking.  While Delhi also had about the same amount of trunk paralysis, she was able to give herself a full refreshing drink on her own. She would throw her trunk up into her mouth, catch it, close her mouth, and then spray the water in.  In the past, when Sissy tried to drink, she would throw her trunk up and spray while her mouth was open, resulting in some water getting in her mouth, while the rest sprayed her face and the surrounding area. 
However, on these warmer days when the girls have been out all day, Sissy has been seen drinking from the pond and doing quite well with it.  She is now half way between Delhi’s and her own old habits.  She will throw up her trunk, catch it in her mouth, but not hold it there, and then spray.  The result is that about 75% of the water goes where it is supposed to.  She may need to fill her trunk a few more times as compared to the other girls, but she seems quite proud of her accomplishment.  The hose was still offered to her, just to make sure she was actually satiating her thirst, but she just played with the spray, smiling proudly as if to say- “didn’t you see? I already drank.” Her newly-found drinking skill has been making it possible for her to go quickly to the pond and get a drink, while Winkie stays in the habitat waiting for her return.  This accomplishment is another wonderful step for her towards independence. We are always here to give her a drink if she needs one, but she seems to be quite proud of the fact that she doesn’t have to come to us for that anymore.

We spent some time this week looking for something different for the girls to browse on in the African barn. We tried one tree (which we believe was a birch) that Flora just loved. She began peeling the bark straight away and completely ignored her hay. A few more of the same kinds of trees were cut the next morning for her. Tange's favorite was the river cane. We hung it between her bars and she walked in with her ears flared and began eating her way back to her end stall, crunching away on her treats as she went. This week, in our produce order, we got a bag of banana leaves. We climbed up to the top of the gates and hung them like “Welcome Home” banners. After the barn doors were opened, both girls stood at attention rumbling with their ears flared. Flora went right for the banana leaves and immediately began eating them. Tange, excited but a little more cautious, looked and sniffed the leaves a bit before deciding that indeed this was a good snack.
After weeks of Flora’s tossing sticks at her stall fan, we came in the barn one morning to find the fan blades bent straight up to the ceiling. Success! We took the poor fan down that afternoon and ended that game, or so we thought. However, the next day, after the doors were opened to let the girls out, Flora left her stall, walked around the barn and into Tange's open door and behold, a stall with a perfectly good fan. She began the very loud game of tossing large sticks at the fan. She got in a couple of good throws but happily left the game behind when she heard the grain bucket outside.
One particular day seemed like an Official Nap Day last week for the Divas. As per usual, Lottie settled down around 11:00 in the morning on the side of a hill, soaking up the bright sunlight. Later, Debbie and Ronnie lay down right next to each other, as if one knocked the other over on her way down.
It was mid afternoon when Minnie took her nap. Minnie rarely naps during the day, so it’s always nice to see her take a load off her feet and relax. She lay down very close to the barn, at the edge of the pond. A caregiver going about regular duties noticed a strange, intermittent noise. After a few moments, the caregiver realized it was the sound of Minnie snoring. The sound began at a high pitch, and then dropped off into the lower pitches at the end. Mixed in with this was the occasional, tiny trumpet. It’s amazing that Minnie doesn’t wake herself up! The snoring brought smiles to the faces of all who heard it.
Two years ago, on March 11, our beloved Delhi died at the age of 62. Last week, Tarra celebrated her 15th year at the Sanctuary, and Flora her 6th.

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