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January 30, 2008

The month of January has been one of the rainiest months in the history of Calaveras County, and rain produces incredible opportunities for mischief and raucous play among the elephants.

71 and Mara, long-time residents, familiar with tobogganing down the slippery, muddy hills demonstrated their superior skills to novices, Ruby and Lulu. Lulu, the smallest and most agile of the four, soon mastered the technique of splaying two back legs out behind and sliding down the steep hills while Ruby, the tank, created her own freestyle routine, looking like a small battleship floating into port as she carommed down the hill.

The elephant paths have changed as 71, Mara, Lulu and Ruby move farther up the hill to forage for tree limbs and scrub oak. Since we were concerned about Maggie's physical capability to move up the fence line with them, we kept the gate closed into that part of the habitat, preventing  access to the very steep terrain. After a few days, Maggie voiced her displeasure with bellows of outrage as everyone moved out of sight leaving her alone in the yard. We have learned that Maggie does not tolerate separation from the group, so we opened the upper gate and spent the day out with her, monitoring her activities.

Maggie surprised us as she moved quickly up the hill, pausing to touch trunks and rumble at the others, then rolling in the soft dirt hidden under the mud. That day, Maggie moved all over the top habitat, eating scrub brush, playing in a dead tree pile, throwing mud and sticks at the other elephants, and, finally, attacking and successfully taking down a big scrub oak.

At the end of the day, Maggie and the others returned to the barn covered in mud, wearing huge branches and rocks on their backs.

Maggie's wounds are almost imperceptible now, and she is certainly much stronger; if it ever stops raining for a few days in a row, we will send her out with her new friends. We did run a camera during her outing, so new video will be appearing on our web page shortly. Rain is predicted for the rest of this week, so we hope everyone will be patient as we wait for the perfect day to finish Maggie's introduction to her loving (and impatient)  family.




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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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