Cutie Rana bug half asleep in her little mud wallow.
Two things are fairly common with new elephants, especially zoo elephants. The first is that the barn is somewhat of a security blanket. After years, sometimes decades of living in the same little square, they find comfort in returning. In some instances it’s just for a few minutes and then they leave again, other times it’s longer. Winkie (for those who don’t know her, she is a TES elephant) didn’t leave the barn for 3 weeks, Sissy took 4. While Rana explored right away, she still seems to like to check that’s it’s still there. And that’s ok, it’s not about forcing them to wander and enjoy the habitat it’s about them discovering things at their own pace and comfort level.
The second is that they generally are awake all day and sleep at night. Sanctuary elephants who have access to their habitat 24 hours a day will often do the reverse. They nap during the warmest hours of the day and are up all night grazing. That is the schedule Guida and Maia are on.
At this point, sometimes Rana comes back to the barn late at night (we check on them around 10 pm) and goes to sleep, others time we find her out in the habitat still grazing. As her sleep habits shift, she is a little sleepy first thing in the morning. While taking this photo she was going between closing her eyes and lulling a bit and then bathing.
She comes into the barn each morning at this point enabling us to clean her vulva and beginning to introduce touching her feet- which she is very guarded about at this point. It’s not a long process, maybe ten minutes, and then she’s free to do as she pleases.
Maia and Guida have also shown up close to the barn at night, which is definitely not their normal habit, but they don’t stay and return in the morning. We are using this opportunity to do a little work with them, also allowing Rana to see how well they cooperate and how calm the process is for them as well. While Rana was out during this picture, it was Maia’s turn in the chute.
We will be doing a multi-day behavioral post about their relationship and behavior, so forgive us if we don’t answer specific questions about that. They’re fine, it has just been interesting to see some of the evolution so clearly and their responses that we want to share it so people have a much deeper understanding. Our goal is to start on Monday, but no promises. They determine our schedules and don’t seem to take social media into consideration.
December 29, 2018