Once in her new home Bunny took a couple of hours to settle in and then was introduced to Tarra. In a matter of minutes Bunny was touching and exploring Tarra while Tarra sampled the hay Bunny had thrown onto her back during the trip. Before nightfall the two were enjoying each other's company and food. The night went well with Tarra and Bunny sharing a large two-stall space. Bunny stood within inches of Tarra while she laid down to sleep. In the wee hours of the morning Bunny , too excited to sleep, invited Barbara to touch and interact with her. It was gentle and endearing. The next morning Jenny and Shirley had their chance to meet Bunny and, boy, were they excited. They had waited all night. Jenny apparently thought this could be yet another long lost friend, and pushed past the others to get close to Bunny. At first Bunny was not sure she liked the directness by which Jenny was approaching but within minutes the herd was a mass of tails and legs, intermingled and exploring each other to their heart's delight.
In the morning Bunny lagged back when the others went outside and spent close to 30 minutes sizing up the panoramic view from her barn door. It was obvious when she finally gathered the courage to step through the door and into the sun light. It was glorious. Once she started out the door, she did not hesitate, not even for a flake of tempting alfalfa hay that lay in her path. For the next few hours the air was filled with chirps, rumbles, trumpets, pops, squeaks, and every number of elephant vocalizations. Shirley and Bunny could be heard conversing in the same language. Their chirps and rumbles were identical and followed a pattern that we recognize as communication.
Bunny is content beyond comparison and we are joyful that she has joined our family.
She fits like a glove, loved by all. She is cooperative and content and trumpets a lot. All day Thursday and Friday trumpets pierced the air of the tranquil Sanctuary valley. Bunny had discovered that with a simple blast of music through her trunk she could roust Jenny and Shirley in seconds. Shirley and Jenny never tired of coming at Bunny's beck and call, even though the last days' events had left them completely exhausted. Bunny seems to bask in the attention.
Thursday morning (September 30, 1999) when Bunny experienced the great outdoors of the Sanctuary for the first time, she had been relieved of her "pet" ball, a practice instituted by her keepers at the Mesker Park Zoo. This practice of leaving her treasured ball in the barn was something that Bunny seemed resigned to.
Upon returning to the barn that evening she seemed relieved and comforted to see her old friend the ball, rolling it gently as she moved from stall to stall.
Friday morning Bunny, testing her new found freedom, decided that she wanted to take her ball outdoors with her. Sanctuary staff feel strongly that decisions should be made by the elephants, so out the door they went, Bunny and ball. She spent the day trumpeting, playing and grazing -- all the while keeping a watchful eye on the simple brown ball that seemed to bring her such security.
Bunny returned to the barn that evening with her back covered with dirt and vegetation, and she was minus the ball. Sanctuary staff were shocked. Bunny had left her binky, pacifier, blanky...whatever you call the security item that youngsters cling to, outside while she came into the barn with her elephant sisters. A hush and feeling of joy filled the air as the sanctuary staff realized the degree of comfort Bunny was experiencing. Yesterday Bunny perfected her rock throwing which was quite effective in keeping the dogs from invading her comfort zone. Today, with her confidence soaring, Bunny allowed the dogs to walk around and past her with very little notice. She continues to make incredible progress. All of the elephants are much more vocal now. In fact, Bunny is making some new sounds we had not heard her make before -- Shirley sounds. It is too cute, she and Shirley talk back and forth to each other. Then Jenny joins in, not be be outdone by Tarra who chatters on and on and on......
Sunday night was quite warm so the herd stayed out late. Around 9PM Bunny got her introduction to life in the country - coyotes. Between the coyotes' song and the elephants' chorus, the night was alive with the most magnificent array of sounds ever heard. Of course the ever-protective Scott and Carol dashed out into the midst of the girls, only to find they did not need comfort. This was Nature's behavioral enrichment. Bunny and Tarra even started in the direction of what Tarra would call the "new dogs". It was great! Bunny is fearless with her sisters by her side. She is the ring-leader, the cheerleader, and the protector all rolled up in one. Even more amazing is that after less than one week in the company of elephants, Bunny has totally abandoned her ball. It means nothing to her anymore. Amazing isn't it?
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