Because we are 2 week volunteers, our 2nd week is different so that the week does not become repetitive (and we do not get bored). Jodi mentioned that we get to do pumpkin steaming most of the morning and then elephant enrichment in the afternoon. Both the VCs, Aek and Jane, are fine with this although I miss their presence!
Unfortunately, Sabine is sick today and will spend most of the morning and early afternoon throwing up and pooping. I am pretty sure she got what I had — we shared a bottled mojito 2 nights ago. oops. Sorry Sabine.
Pumpkin steaming was done with the guidance of the same 2 ladies that had us do the watermelon peeling yesterday. This is one of the nice ladies:
These are the pots that the pumpkin is steamed in:
These are handled by the ladies, probably so that the volunteers don’t hurt themselves… 🙂 The kitchen ladies steam and empty the pots and we separate them onto the cooling wire racks
and prepare to fill the elephant baskets.
There are seven older elephants that need the soft pumpkin because they have little or none of their 4 (very large) teeth left. This is Mae Bua Loi, one of the older elephants – 60 years old. Her name means ‘Floating Lotus’ that is very grateful for the steamed pumpkin. She is slurping and enjoying it 🙂
Our next task of the day is elephant enrichment. This involves food (corn stalks, watermelon, watermelon rinds, bananas, timothy hay) and props ( card board boxes with no tape or staples; thick 4 inch wide, 4 ft long recently cut tree log branches, tires). Jodi assigned us the family shelter which contains four enclosures:
Faa Sai’s enclosure is to be the most done up since she is the most ‘difficult’. She is 1 years old and likes to do her own thing. The mahout(s) have difficulty bringing her in often. So if she has something to look forward to in her enclosure, she may be more excited to get to it. Aside from bribery it is also great mental and physical stimulation for all the elephants that have shelters that are enrichment-supported. We stuff tires (old ONLY rubber) with watermelon rinds and bananas and seal it in with timothy and even corn stalks if we run out of hay; we string bananas and watermelon halves with softened bamboo strips which soaked in water; and I even managed to string up one of our big logs with bamboo. This is Faa Sai’s enclosure before:
The other three enclosures had much smaller variations of Faa Sai’s setup. This was lots of fun and gave us a chance to get a bit creative. We used the full 2 hours to set up the enclosures.
I thought I had pictures of the family herd tearing down their shelters but they must be on my camera still which I used when my phone was recharging. Needless to say, the eles had a great time. At 4 p.m. Jodi gave us permission to stand across the way of the shelters, yet still be close enough to the enclosures to watch the reaction of the elephants.
The first elephant to get to her enclosure was Sri Nuan who seem pleasantly surprised finding goodies in her enclosure. Then all the other elephants seemed to return at once. Faa Sai got into her areas and who barreled in right after her? Faa Mai (6 years old). She was pulling the cornstalk/branch that placed on the top of the cement enclosure. Tong Jan (13) followed her sister Faa Mai right after her and there was excited chaos. The mahouts had to shoo Tong Jan and Faa Mai out of Faa Sai’s enclosure. Faa Sai enjoyed her tires. Mae Bua Tong and her daughters, Tong Jan and Faa Mai, loved their tire too. dok Mai loved her little treats and Dok Ngern (momma to Dok Mai) loved peeling the bark from the logs we brought in and eating it. Bananas were stolen, corn stalks were shared and entertainment and fun was provided. SUCCESS!!
After a delicious dinner, we watched a documentary that I have seen before called, “Vanishing Giants’. It was just as moving as the last time I saw it. And, of course, I cried.
When we went to bed, Bella, who we secretly call Tea Drinker because 2 years ago I caught her drinking my tea, was asleep on our deck (our room is on the top 2nd floor). She loves the wicker chair. Sabine and I went to brush our teeth in the bathrooms. When we were walking up the stairs back to our room, I noticed that our door was half way open as though someone had been in there. When we locked the door and were climbing into bed, we saw this in between our 2 beds:
We sooooort of tried to coax her out, but not that seriously because we really did not mind if she stayed. She looked at us and then curled back into a tighter ball. We shut off the light and went to sleep. 🙂