Category Archives: Nature

Never Say “Last”: Nandi Loves Her Keepers

Ahem.

Yes, I know I said there would be no more Nandi videos. I was wrong. I was delusional. I have no idea how many more Nandi videos there will be. She’s too cute. She does too many adorable and fascinating things. So as long as the Reid Park Zookeepers keep on putting them out, and I keep on finding them, I suppose I will keep on  posting them.

They make me smile. And when they come to my own inbox I always have to watch them repeatedly.

So… I give you yet another video of Nandi. Every morning when her keepers arrive for work, she gets “super-excited” and RUNS full bore for the barn, spinning and sometimes literally bouncing off the walls. Here’s a sample of what her Keepers see every day:

 

 

Aunties to the Rescue

Yes, it’s yet another baby elephant video, but this one is not of our Nandi at the Reid Park Zoo. Instead, it is of  an Indian elephant baby at the Zurich zoo, who falls on his back trying to climb onto a ledge. The adults immediately rush to his aid.  I was blown away by their speed and the way they worked together…. And the more I’ve watched this the more I think neither of the two was even the baby’s mom, but rather the “aunties.” Mom seems to come up afterward and is the one he ends up standing under when it’s all over.

I love God’s infinitely fascinating and even mind-blowing creation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_mAAQO3UdE

 

Breakfast with the Baby Elephant

Baby Elephant RPZoo

Last week, the Reid Park Zoo held a fundraiser for the elephants, by inviting 100 members of the Zoological society to sign up for an early morning breakfast with our new baby elephant, at long last christened “Nandi” (nahn’-dee). As soon as the email appeared in my inbox, I clicked on the link to sign up — and a good thing. One of the other attendees told me the event was sold out in two hours.

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We arrived at 7:15 in the morning, well before the zoo opened, and after checking in at the gate were directed to the back of the property where the elephant habitat “Expedition Tanzania” was situated. There in the extensive educational area, they had our breakfast waiting for us: fresh fruit salad, orange juice and coffee, French toast with pieces of apple, scrambled eggs with cheese, hash brown potatoes with sweet potatoes, onions and bell peppers (I think) and ham and bacon. The serving dishes were black iron skillets set atop towers of bricks in the midst of which were the warming elements. It was all very nice and very tasty.

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As we finished up eating, the keepers came out to tell us about the elephant project. Our zoo is one of only five in the nation to support a breeding herd of African elephants, making the arrival of a new baby a rare event. They also shared stories of little Nandi — of her birth and how easy it all was, how quickly she was on her feet — within fifteen minutes, I believe they said.  How in the days after her birth they struggled just to get her out of the barn…

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Baby elephants don’t see well and tend to follow the biggest thing around them. So Nandi would start out following her mama in the barn, Semba would walk through the doorway… and Nandi would end up in the corner. They’d walk Semba back through the doorway into the barn area, and try again. With the same results. Semba would walk through the doorway and Nandi would end up in the corner. This went on for 45 minutes before the little one finally made it out through the door!

Thankfully she’s not having that problem any longer…

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Another funny story involved one of Nandi’s brothers, the former baby, Sundzu, now three years old.  Semba has three offspring, all by the same father: Punga, a seven-year-old male, Sundzu, and little Nandi, at the time only a few weeks old. There is also another adult female in the herd named Lugile. She has been fascinated with Nandi from the start and is very motherly toward her, so the keepers have taken to calling her “Auntie Lugile.”

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Sundzu, Mom, Nandi (click to enlarge)

So they’d already introduced Sundzu and Nandi some days before this incident, and he’d been very nice, very gentle, and the keepers were feeling good about it all. But on this particular day, Sundzu was standing beside Nandi in the yard, Mom and Auntie nearby, but not paying attention to the kids. The keeper said Sundzu very clearly looked to the right where mom was busy stripping leaves from a stick, her back to the little ones. Then he very clearly looked to the left over at Auntie Lugile, who  was also occupied with her own pursuits, and seeing he was in the clear,  just like the three-year-old brother that he was, he smacked Nandi with his trunk and knocked her clean over!

Neither of the adults noticed him that time, though of course they came to see why Nandi was on the ground crying. Sundzu, of course, had no idea.   He got away with it so well, he naturally, tried it  again on another day… only that time he was caught and Mom chased him around the yard in discipline for some time!

Another cool thing we got to see is a daily ritual that occurs with all the elephants when the big bull elephant Mabu, (he weighs 12,000 lbs) joins the rest of the herd in the yard. All of them line up and walk over to greet him as he enters:

Punga, Sundzu, Nandi and Mom, Semba

Punga, Sundzu, Nandi & Mom en route to greet Mabu (click to enlarge)

As they all come together, they pass by him in a line and touch him with their trunks, as he in turn runs his trunk over each of them.

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Mabu greeting Semba and Nandi (click to enlarge)

I think Mabu is just awesome. He is so big! What amazes me is how gentle they can be with the baby and how aware of her they are, despite their rather shocking size differential.

Anyway, it was a wonderful morning. I stayed well after most of the other people left, and took something like 287 pictures!

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First Mud Wallow

Our little girl is only five days old here. This video was especially interesting to me for two reasons in addition to my fascination with this tiny elephant (the size difference between her and her parents blows me away). One is that at first the keepers were concerned about how the father, Mabu, would treat his new baby, and there was talk of keeping him away from her for awhile. (He’s got the bigger tusks and one of them has a silver cap on the end.)

But then shortly after her birth they decided the time was right to introduce her to the rest of the herd under a controlled situation, and they were amazed at how gentle they all were with her, including the father. You can kind of see that here, as he takes care not to stomp on her.

The other reason it’s interesting is because one of the dangers in letting her out into the regular elephant yard was that she might wade too deeply into the muddy areas and get stuck in them, or maybe even swallowed up. I love how Mom helps her out at the end of this video.

One of the reasons they like the mud so much is because when they wallow in it or spray it on themselves it forms a hard coating on their skin that prevents the insects from biting them…

Okay, on to the video:

When Progress is Invisible

my painting of a dove on her nest in our grapefruit tree

my painting of a nesting dove

I painted this mourning dove one year as she sat on her nest in the grapefruit tree in our back yard.  She watched me as I took the pictures that I would use for the painting, but she didn’t stir, didn’t leave the nest. She sat on those eggs for weeks.

And all that time she was mostly doing “nothing.” More than that, the things she was sitting on, her eggs, also seemed to be doing nothing. All that time she spent sitting there when she could have been flying around or walking about looking for seeds or taking a shower in the sprinklers with her dove friends… instead she was sitting up there on her eggs which did not seem to be doing a darn thing. For a very long time, no change whatsoever registered in those eggs, at least as far as the dove could see. And yet… amazing, profound, complex, rich changes were occurring behind the façade of the thin white shell.

She might have been tempted to give it up. I mean… 15 to 18 days of sitting there doing nothing at all? With only brief time outs to feed and get water? I doubt I could do it for even 2 hours!

And yet, lately God has been using the dove analogy with me as regards my working on Sky.  There’s been a lot of time where I can’t see any changes occurring… I was getting no ideas, I’d go in to write and couldn’t seem to think of a thing, couldn’t keep my mind on the work, couldn’t get anywhere. Stuck.

But a couple of months ago, He sent me the dove analogy courtesy of Elisabeth Elliot’s daily devotion site. Not only as the analogy regards the book, but even more so as regards my spiritual life. I love the idea that growth is occurring, unseen, unnoticed, behind the scenes, where I can’t feel it, can’t measure it, can’t realize it. Even as in another unseen place, He is orchestrating the pulling together of different elements of character and plot and setting to produce the next scene that I will eventually write.

I could freak out and get impatient and condemned and anxious or I can be still and trust that He’s at work even when it seems He’s not.  I know this, because He’s told me that it’s so:

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to execute for His good pleasure.” ~Philippians 2:13

“Faithful is He who calls you, and HE will bring it to pass.” ~I Thessalonians 5:24

I just have to believe it.