Tag Archives: animals

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.

IMG_2098 - Copy (640x389)

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.

IMG_2097 (800x602)

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…

IMG_2167 (2)

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…

IMG_2102 - Copy (800x602)

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.”

IMG_2222

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.

IMG_2336 (800x427)

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!

IMG_2179

Life Needs Death

Believe it or not, I am still getting snail mail for my mother. Recently I received yet another missive from PETA, one of the organizations she supported, pleading with her to renew her membership, as they are in dire need of her funds. To guilt her into submitting, they sent along several sheets of cute mailing labels and a complimentary copy of their quarterly magazine informing her that while she should have gotten it last month, she apparently did not, and maybe she didn’t notice, so they are sending it to her in a special envelope along with the letter badgering her to re-subscribe. If they had included an SASE I might have sent them notice that she’s deceased and they should remove her from their mailing list.

Hmm… come to think of it I believe I already did that.

Anyway, when it comes I always take a moment to peruse the magazine. I’m not sure why. It’s so stupid. They make such a big deal out of nothing. I read the articles and always feel like I’m only getting a third of the story, along with a good dollop of hysteria.

This issue was particularly provoking to me. Mind you, I’m only skimming, but here are some of the titles, bullets and side notes that hit my eyes:

 “Did my meal have a mother?”

“Where did veal come from? Baby cows. Waaah!”

“How about the turkey? The steak? That succulent piece of lamb?”

Oooh. Those were once living creatures… a nice, feathery turkey, a sweet, lovable, innocent cow, a cute woolly lamb. How can anyone eat such things! Only because they haven’t really thought about what it is they’re actually eating — or they happen to be a horrid, cruel and vicious barbarian!

You are urged to always “Try to relate to who’s on your plate!” This statement was accompanied by an illustration of a plate with vegetables, potatoes and a tiny naked person… (Which turned out to be a photograph of an actual person lying on a huge plate at one of their “events” of the same name.)

It’s all emotional, overwrought and rife with anthropomorphizing the animals — ie, giving them human feelings and attributes they do not possess. I’m sorry, but turkeys do not have the attachment to their young that human mothers do. I’ve raised turkeys and was not impressed with their intelligence or their demeanor.

I’ve worked with cows, which are one of my favorite animals, but they are still animals — beasts. Kinda dumb ones at that.

I’ve never worked with sheep, but the Bible consistently uses them as an illustration of how stupid and herd-bound the people of God can be when they are out of His plan and following their own ways.

The authors even agonize over the plight of fish as they are “impaled and pulled into an environment where they cannot breathe”.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as having been “particularly concerned with the sufferings of chickens for many years.”

SIGH…

I think a lot of this comes from living in an affluent society where we are more and more divorced from the actual realities of what it means to survive. We, as a society, are so removed from our food sources now, we can afford to indulge such absurd ideas.

I say absurd, because if you get down to it, life requires death in order to continue.

All life. If you look at the entire ecological system, it is, as that silly Lion King song trumpets, a circle. The grass grows, the cow eats it, makes a baby cow, dies, decomposes, feeds the grass which the now-grown baby cow eats as it makes a new cow, which feeds new grass… etc.

Right there, in front of everyone’s eyes to see.

I would also like to point out that when one eats the grass, the grass dies, as well. So too, the spinach, the onion, the lettuce that vegans are so fond of replacing their animal foods with. Worse, when you crunch into that fresh spinach leaf you are in the process of crushing and bursting and killing living cells.

Ohhhh noooooooo. And should you cook the spinach leaf beforehand, you are subjecting those cells to lethal levels of heat and again the cell walls burst, the cells die…

Animal or plant, the stuff we eat is living either as we eat it, or prior to preparation for eating. We don’t eat rocks. And after we eat this living stuff it is no longer living. Thus, life requires death to be sustained.

A perfect, everywhere present, three times a day reminder of the Cross, and the fact that there is no spiritual life for fallen man apart from death — the death of the son of God, which provides true life — eternal life — for all who believe in Him.

 

Exonerated!

Cows have been absolved of causing global warming with their methane emissions. I think they still emit just as much methane as before, but a new study has shown that their grazing on grasslands can cut “emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas: nitrous oxide.” (Does it seem ironic to anyone else that climate change fanatics are in a tizzy about the over-production of laughing gas?)

According to an article in the online Telegraph.co.uk, cows, once noted as the greatest source of methane production on the planet, have been found to make up for that by their grazing. A study of grasslands in China revealed that when the grass is long, the snow lies atop it, trapping heat and moisture on the ground which encourages the growth of microbes in the soil, and those microbes produce the nitrous oxide. When the grass is cropped by herbivores like cows (I love cows) the snow settles close to the ground, freezing it and thus compromising the environment conducive to microbe proliferation.

Long live cows! (And sheep — they’re good, too)

Down with microbes! Has anyone measured the carbon footprint of microbes? I understand they are quite active in tropical and swampy areas. And rice paddies.

Actually I also recall reading a study a few months back that said the greatest source of CO2 was not man, but the soil itself, breaking down as it aged. There is an awful lot of aging soil on this planet…