Two weeks into our Volunteering
07.02.2013 - 07.02.2013
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Today has been a really great day, and at its peak it was 38 degrees. We were up at our usual Safari time and down by the cages by 7.30am. Mike, a volunteer cleans and feeds the leopards but no one else wanted to do it as they are quite stinky so Chelsea volunteered. As we thought the female leopards, Nala was pregnant we have not been cleaning up her urine so she stayed calm with her own scent but we no longer think she is pregnant so today was a smelly clean with lots of detol. On the second cage as Chelsea went to jump out to get the scrubbing brush she banged her head and was severely bleeding all down her face. The cut is only small but it was bleeding a lot so it had to be cleaned and dressed but she was fine after fifteen minutes. Liam was on monkey clean duty.
After the cleaning and feeding of all the monkeys and cats we went for breakfast and we then both went on cubs at the front. Liam did tigers and Chelsea did leopards but we watched each other and took it in turns to make bottles and wash up so it was a lot easier. The leopards today were climbing all over the cage and trying to jump down. It is really dangerous for them as their bones are very small and brittle. They still rip the bottle teet to shreds every time we feed them and then won’t let go. You have to let them relax with it in their mouth and then quickly whip it out in one fast movement. Mocha, the male leopard wanted to cuddle all day and kept lying upside down on Chelsea’s knee while she stoked his belly. Even Latte had some cuddles which is unusual as she is so energetic and curious, she never sits down.
Yesterday Liam had used a plastic bottle to fill with water and freeze as a toy for the tigers. He tried it on them today and they loved it. He took off the plastic which left a cylinder of ice. They were chasing round the ice, licking it, licking the floor where it had been and pushing it around with their paws. It was adorable. Liam is very attached to them, so attached that he buys them refrigerated mineral water because apparently they like it better cold. We spent all day down at the cubs which was really nice and we had quite a few tourists, most of which were nice and gentle. We did some research on tiger enclosures as in 5 weeks they will be moved to a large playground enclosure that we are yet to build so time is running out to get this drawn up and completed in time.
When we got back to meet the other volunteers at base an elephant ride for us had been arranged at 5pm. We went down the elephant area and he had 2 female elephants waiting for us. This was a real treat as lots of others have shared two or three people to an elephant. They are totally amazing and huge. The mahout’s grow up with the same elephant from it being a calf and them being a boy so have an incredibly strong bond with them. The mahout can command the elephant all sorts of things. It can even help pass the chains around her, or pick things off the floor and pass them to you on the back. We got on the elephants by them kneeling down; you use their bent knee as a step. We then went for a walk through the trees, occasionally getting whipped in the face by a branch. Then we found a banana plant so we fed them and then walked over to a hose pipe where we showered them whilst sitting on their backs. The elephants can pick up the hose pipe and either spray you or pass the hose to you while you are seated on its back. We really enjoyed it and we got really nice and wet. The elephants kept stealing them off us to put in their mouths and have a drink. At the safari they don’t use the elephant seats as it is a lot better for the animal without these so you ride bareback on the elephant’s upper back/ lower neck area and hold on to its ears. At the first it is really scary as you are not secured, its high and it is tricky to get the knack of not falling off when she leans down for food of walks fast but once you get used to it, it is amazing. We walked through the park on the elephants and all the kids came to wave at us. We then walked down to the lake where it was time to bath them. They walk into the lake with you on their back and go as far as the mahout tells them. Chelsea’s mahout was nice and she got dunked waist high but Liam went right in. His elephant was loving it and he rolled to the right which made Liam fall in and the mahouts laughed their heads off. Liam’s, mahout had not planned this so his phone was totally broken.
Chelsea’s elephant decided it wanted to get out sooner than the male but as they were tied together she was getting stressed and making extremely loud trunk noises and rising up. The mahout got her under control but Chelsea managed to lose a shoe in the moment. We climbed out of the water and thought that it would be time to go home as we had English class but the mahout’s said not yet. We walked past our rooms and out onto the rice paddies for a long time to the area they were sleeping overnight. Every night they sleep in a new place as they need a phenomenal amount of food (200 kilo’s each) to keep them going, especially Chelsea’s elephant as she is pregnant. We got off the elephant in a field and the mahout’s tied them up and chopped up a lot of banana trees for them to eat overnight and Liam helped. One of the mahout’s gave Chelsea one of his shoes which was nice.
Next we left the two females and loaded a pick-up truck with banana trees and drove these to the male. We stayed in the truck as the mahout’s said that he can be dangerous. We were very lucky in out elephant adventure as we got to ride them for an hour and a half and see how the mahout’s care for their elephants and do some trekking and bathing. Lots of the other volunteers elephant experience has been a ten minute walk on the roads in the park.
We didn’t get back until 6.30pm so we quickly got changed and went to English class. Jen and Mike had stated them off and learned them common objects in a room, like plate, scissors, pen etc. They were really excited to show us what they had learned and afterwards we played a game of duck duck goose and hokey cokey which they never tire of, they love it.