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November 6, 2007


Today's routine for the elephants was a repeat of yesterday's, but Maggie was much more relaxed with the rest of the group. She stayed right at the fence with them, and frequently turned her back for each of them when they approached to explore and touch her. They were all fascinated with her but very respectful, and Maggie stayed close when they approached.

Pat Derby, Ed Stewart and her keepers from Anchorage Zoo stayed out with them to monitor behavior.

We brought out a lot of big branches and some oat hay, which Maggie loves, and provided a cooperative feeding opportunity which they all enjoyed. Maggie was bold enough to reach under the fence and steal a branch from Ruby.

Cooperative feeding is basically like a banquet or feast in a community; it provides a setting for social interaction, and is a lovely way to "break the ice" in social introductions of elephants. The group spent most of the day with this activity, interspersed with lots of dusting and rumbling. At one point, Lulu went up the hill and shook one of the big oak trees to harvest acorns. She was rewarded with a shower of the tasty treats which she shared with the rest of the group.

The two Asian elephants, Minnie and Rebecca, returned to their spot across the road expecting to partake in the festivities with some of the sumptuous repast. Minnie's little squeaks and their adorable antics elicited the proper response, and they were soon enjoying the leftovers. I suspect this part of the Asian habitat which is very close to the African area may become a favorite spot for the Asians during the introductory period for Maggie.

After spending most of the day in the sun, Maggie returned to the barn for a bath and dinner.

She was enjoying her dinner when Ruby entered from the opposite side of the barn, startling Maggie. Maggie turned and expelled a huge roar which startled Ruby and Lulu, who was following Ruby into the barn. Ruby and Lulu trumpeted and ran into the barn. At that point, Maggie, Lulu and Ruby were all running around in their separate stalls rumbling, trumpeting, urinating and defecating as wild elephants do when they are excited. To add to the excitement, 71 and Mara, who were still outside, joined in the display creating a cacophony which reverberated over the hills.

Once Mara and 71 were in the barn, everyone settled down and calmly consumed dinner. African elephants do love a noisy greeting! We humans who were part of the scene were partially deaf for the next hour. The remainder of the evening was peaceful with low rumbles of contentment interspersed with snores and a lot of noisy flatulence.

Maggie is with the other elephants twenty-four hours a day; her stalls in the barn allow her to reach through the barriers and touch the others, and her yard outside is adjacent to the big habitat. Her rapid adaptability to four other elephants after living alone for a long period of time is amazing and a good indicator of an early integration, but we will not rush the process.

We are all on "elephant time", and Maggie will tell us when she is ready to join the group.


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Performing Animal Welfare Society
PO Box 849, Galt, CA 95632

(209) 745-2606 office/shelter
(209) 745-1809 fax

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