April 1, 2011
What’s happening in Phase II now?
Work continues to move along in the old building. Most of the demolition debris has been cleared and it looks like the construction crew is already starting to pour some of the footers and foundations for the new walls.
If you look in the far end of the building in the picture, you can see the pink foam board insulation that will be between the old, relatively fragile exterior wall and the new wall. The new wall has been engineered to withstand the force of a seven-ton bull elephant hitting it a full speed. Without this reinforced wall, Kandula could look a bit like the Kool-Aid Man busting through the wall when he's full grown.
I was told recently that it should start to quiet down significantly in the next month as the construction crew finishes the debris removal. I think this will be nice but a bit weird as we and the elephants have become so used to the noise since the beginning of construction in Phase One more than five ago.
A lot of people have asked us what the elephants do in the cold weather. Do they have to stay inside all winter? The answer is definitely not. We have very specific guidelines set in place for when the elephants need to be kept inside and when they can be given access to the yards.
Being such massive animals (think body mass), they really retain a lot of body heat. In fact as hind-gut fermenters—they do a lot of their digestion and nutrient absorption in their intestines—they produce a lot of heat just by eating and digesting their daily diets. So they really do quite well in the cold and can be outside below freezing and feel quite comfortable. The trick is to give them access to a warm spot, either the heated building or an outdoor radiant heater, so that if they do eventually start to feel the cold they can go warm up for a bit because it takes them about as long to warm up as it does to cool down.
One of the things we do have to worry about in the winter is ice and snow accumulation. While it doesn’t bother them to walk on either one the problem comes down to the fact that elephants don’t make good ice skaters. The last thing we want is a 4.5-ton animal slipping and landing awkwardly. So we do monitor the yards and make sure that there are clear pathways in the yards and no ice covered slopes where problems could occur.
So, what do we do with them when they choose not to be outside? Mainly, we just work a lot harder to find ways to make them work for their food. This is especially true for the cows.
Kandula, on the other hand, is quite capable of keeping himself occupied. All it takes it some big toys with which I would imagine any nine-year-old boy could be kept occupied. One of Kandula’s favorites is his really, REALLY big truck tire. This one weighs about 1,200 pounds and Kandula likes to play on it and shove it around from stall to stall.