Friday, August 8, 2014

Still waiting

Still waiting. Waiting waiting patiently. It’s starting to feel like Semba isn't pregnant and that it’s just a giant food baby! It’s obviously not, but that’s the way it feels!Amanda and I have both worked the evening shift and the overnight shift. As of now the main difference on watch is eating or sleeping. During the evening shift, 2:30 PM-11 PM, Semba mainly eats. During the overnight shift, 10:30 PM-7 AM, Semba mainly sleeps. She sleeps in roughly an hour to hour and a half increments two or three times a night. She gets up to use the bathroom, aaaannnnddd eat some more. She will also interact with Lungile or Punga through the fence, but most of the time is spent eating and sleeping. She is pretty much a baby in that sense.
Now, Sundzu on the other hand will entertain himself when he gets tired of eating or sleeping. He’s only 3, so some of the things he does are pretty cute.
1)      One morning at about 5:30, Sundzu stood in a stall and started twirling his trunk like a helicopter.
2)      He will randomly start to walk backwards around the stalls. When he does this, Amanda and I both think of the Spongebob episode where he says “Backing up. Backing up. Backing up.”
3)      This is what the keepers call the sprinkler. African Elephants have to “fingers” at the tip of their trunk while Asian elephants have only one. Sundzu will fill his trunk with water and pinch the fingers together and blow the water out in spurts to make it look like a “sprinkler”
4)      Sundzu is a mamma’s boy to say the least. He’s always hanging around Semba and just won’t give her the space she needs. This includes when she is sleeping. Sundzu will occasionally wait for Semba to fall asleep and then he will go try and squeeze next to her. Most of the times, Semba will sleep in a corner of a stall leaving very little room for Sundzu, but that doesn’t matter for him! He will do his best to squeeze in right next to her no matter how uncomfortable it looks.
5)      Some nights, there is not enough room for Sundzu to wedge himself next to Semba. He still tries to find a spot as close to her as he can get, sometimes waking her up. One night, Sundzu was searching for his spot by Semba and he woke her up, and if you ask me, he did it on purpose. Well right when Semba stood up, Sundzu immediately laid down right where Semba was sleeping.
6)      And the last one. I’m not sure how he does it, but he’ll put his trunk in his mouth and makes a fart-like noise. This usually happens multiple times in the morning, and I still laugh every time he does it.
Outside of the elephants, there are still some differences between the evening and night shift. At about 5 in the morning, it starts to get light out, and the flies swarm. One morning I counted 6 flies on only one of my legs. During the evening, there aren't as many flies, but the flies are there longer.
Amanda Primarily does night shifts, usually 5 nights in a row, and I primarily do evening shifts and cover the two nights that Amanda is not there. If a volunteer is unable to make their shift, then Amanda or I will step in when needed if we are able to. I find myself being a couple steps behind in the morning. I am riding the struggle bus for sure whenever I work a night shift.
Sue, the elephant manager, will also give us projects to work on while we are there. Since there is always a keeper with us, we rotate Semba watch, which allows us to work, aaannd to give us a break from watching Semba eat or sleep. Our most recent project has been a map of Africa with elephant populations which will be used in informing people about 96elephants. The Reid Park Zoo has recently partnered with 96elephants. This organization gets its name from an average of 96 elephants being killed every day for their tusks. There is a federal ban on ivory in the US, but that does not put a stop to the black market ivory trade or selling ivory that has been around. New York and now New Jersey are the only two states that have put a complete ban on the sale of ivory! 96elephants works to educate and help put an end to ivory trade.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Waiting, Hoping, and Wishing

Still no baby! 
Twenty four hour watch has been going for close to a month but still no signs that we are any closer to having the new member of the elephant herd joining us. Semba appears quite content and she continues her normal activities, and her appetite has not slowed down. 

Litsemba, Semba's full name, is swahili meaning "hope". Semba is approximately 24 years old. She, along with Mabu and Lungile were born at Kruger National Park in South Africa. From there many of the elephants in the park were moved to Swaziland in 1994. The elephant populations started to become overpopulated in the area. Because of this two family herds were moved San Diego Safari Park in 2003. Breeding within these herds was very successful at San Diego. That is where Semba had her first and second calves Punga and Sundzu. Both were fathered by Mabu. Due to the success of the herds at San Diego, it was decided that they needed to be expanded and in March of 2012, a small breeding herd of five elephants was moved to Reid Park Zoo. Semba is the matriarch of the herd. In elephant social dynamics, one female will lead the family herd. Most males once they reach sexual maturity will go off on their own, sometimes joining a separate bachelor herd. 

Mabu and Semba were observed breeding in October of 2012. It was quite the display of the entire herd running and trumpeting through out the exhibit over multiple days. Mabu also mated with Lungile but it didn't result in a pregnancy. The news of Semba's pregnancy was a delight to the zoo and community. This was exciting for everyone because this will be the first elephant born in the state of Arizona!

Now we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the baby (sex unknown). Semba is still within the healthy window for delivery. Urine analysis predicted between July 16th and August 21st. At this point this pregnancy has surpassed Semba's previous two due dates with Punga and Sundzu and has also gone pass the mean delivery date. Everyone is on edge waiting for some sign that labor is coming. Matt and I are especially anxious because our internship and time at the zoo is coming to a close. We leave soon and we want more than anything to get to see this baby born. So keep fingers crossed that this bundle of joy comes soon!

*Photo taken from Reid Park Zoo's Facebook page*