Keepers' Diaries, July 2006

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The ongoing treatment of Kora’s infected jaw dominates this month’s Diary. After further consultation with many Veterinarians, as well as the Southern African experts, it was unanimously decided that surgery was not an option for two reasons, (l) because the sensitivity test done on the pus revealed that the bacteria was resistant to the antibiotic of choice to be inserted as slow-release “beads”, along the jawbone, under anaesthesia (always a danger to the life of a baby elephant). Also, this would involve two operations, one to implant the “beads” and another (also under anaesthesia) to remove them after a period of time. (2) From previous experience we knew that Kora would undoubtedly pull out the stitches with his trunk, and an open wound would simply invite further infection and added complications. It was therefore decided to administer a l0 day course of injectible Penicillin, to which the bacteria is sensitive, and even if this did not actually cure the osteomyelitis, hopefully it would weaken the bacteria, which might then succumb to ongoing and intensive homeopathic treatment, which has no side affects.

01 July 2006

Shida seemed dull this morning, according to the Mixer, because he did not sleep well last night, and kept circling his Stockade and pushing at the door to open it. He browsed for a short time, and then spent the rest of the day sleeping.

02 July 2006

Zurura woke up and went straight to Kora’s Stockade, Kora being his best friend. The two always enjoy play pushing and browsing together.

03 July 2006

Lualeni’s stable was the first to be opened today, and she ran to Makena’s door and rumbled a greeting.

04 July 2006

Today, whilst washing Kora’s jaw, we noticed that there was more pus than usual. He was very cooperative, and raised his head so that we could wash his wound thoroughly, whilst Zurura stood close to him watching closely what was going on.

05 July 2006

Shida did not want to spend time at the mudbath, but instead ran off to take salt from the rocks near the forest. He was very active today, running around, his Keepers following.

06 July 2006

Makena led the way home in the evening, running ahead of all the others, but suddenly found that she was confronted by some warthogs, who were not afraid and refused to run away. She became scared, and screamed, which brought Lualeni at the double followed by all the others.

07 July 2006

Kora has a funny trick now. When the Mixer is bringing the milk, and all the other elephants run to meet him, Kora remains behind, holding onto a Keeper’s leg, so that the Keeper has to always be near him, and walk with him to get his share.

08 July 2006

It was a drizzling day, so the orphans were not very playful. Zurura tried to mount on Makena, (which is something he is always trying to do, Makena being viewed by him as a rival for Lualeni’s affection). Makena ran away, which made him fall down. He was not happy about this, so he ran after Makena, snatched her blanket off, and pounded it into the ground to show his disapproval.

09 July 2006

Kamboyo is beginning to challenge Zurura’s dominance, which usually causes a mini punch-up, because Zurura does not want to lose his seniority to Kamboyo.

10 July 2006

While the Keepers were taking their lunch today, a family of warthogs were grazing close by, which annoyed Makena and Zurura. They kept trying to chase the warthogs away, but without success, so in the end Lualeni came to force the warthogs to move away.

11 July 2006

Having washed Kora’s jaw, we noticed that the wound seems to be getting smaller and the skin around it seems to be healing. He does not mind us washing it. Whenever we begin to wash Kora’s wound, Zurura comes to stand next to him as though wanting to reassure and help him.

12 July 2006

Whilst all the orphans were feeding in the forest, an impala came running which scared them and made them rush towards the Keepers. Makena found herself squeezed in the middle of the others and bellowed, which brought Lualeni to the rescue, who pushed the others aside so that Makena could run un-heeded.

13 July 2006

A troupe of baboons passed close to the orphans in the forest. Zurura and Makena wanted to charge them, but when the baboons refused to run, the two babies came back to the Keepers. Loijuk then took on the fight, and showing a great deal of courage, charged them determinedly, forcing the baboons to escape in all directions.

14 July 2006

Kora’s jaw seemed to have more pus today, and appeared painful as we washed it. He kept on touching it, and resisted the cleaning. Loijuk is becoming a bit pushy towards the visitors now.

15 July 2006

Sian is making friends with Zurura now, and spends time close to him, sometimes play pushing with him. Although she sleeps next door to Makena, Makena only wants to be with Lualeni, and will only go to Sian if Lualeni is not nearby.

16 July 2006

Lualeni alarmed all the babies when she saw some giraffes running towards the group. She trumpeted to warn them all, and they all followed her lead back to the Keepers.

17 July 2006

Makena and Zurura began their usual play-fighting early. Lualeni continually tried to stop them, but in the end it was Sian who took a firm line and stopped the fight.

18 July 2006

Zurura thrilled all the mudbath visitors today by moving very slowly along the line of the rope, and allowing each and everyone to touch him gently. All the visitors were very happy, and he won plenty of foster-parents that day. Today, in the evening, Kora had the first injection of Penicillin for his infected jawbone. He will have a ten day course, the bacteria having been identified as being sensitive to penicillin, but resistant to the Gentomycin beads that were proposed. In order to avert his attention, he was given an extra ration of milk and did not notice the injection too much.

19 July 2006

Kora was suspicious today when accompanied by two Keepers and when he spotted the Vet. Although he resisted a little, the extra milk kept him calm, but the Vet had to make three attempts before he managed to give the injection.

20 July 2006

Kora was limping today, due to the injections in his back legs. We alerted the Vet, who suggested that he must exercise the muscles, and that it was normal after such a big injection. However, he decided to skip a day to allow his legs to recover a little.

21 July 2006

Kora was better today, and playful, as usual. He is very cooperative, and agrees to leave the others, and come from the bush alone with two Keepers to the Stockade, so that the Vet can inject him as he takes his reward of extra milk.

22 July 2006

Today, Lualeni wanted to know why Kora is taken from the bush every day at 4.30 p.m. She wanted to come along with him, which made all the other elephants follow, so they all came and watched. Zurura, who is Kora’s best friend, did his utmost to get into the Stockade with Kora, pushing the Keepers aside and banging at the door. He was very distressed to see his friend being injected.

23 July 2006

Today, Kora’s legs are very sore, and he was limping so badly that the Keepers kept the elephants browsing close to the Stockade. Nevertheless, he had another injection at 4.30 p.m. as usual.

24 July 2006

Having seen Kora’s plight yesterday, the Vet decided to skip the injection today to give his legs a chance to recover.

25 July 2006

Zurura was very active today, play fighting with Kora, then Sian, Loijuk, Kamboyo and Makena. However, when he took on Makena, Lualeni came and separated them.

26 July 2006

Sian impressed the Keepers today. After the mudbath, as the elephants were walking back to the bush, she noticed that Kora, who is still limping badly, was left way behind. Immediately, she stopped and returned to keep him company, walking slowly alongside him so that he was not alone.

27 July 2006

Makena and Zurura began a play-fight at the mudbath. Lualeni and the Keepers tried to intervene, forcing Zurura to give up. Later he challenged Kamboyo, and did so on and off throughout the afternoon, determined to prove that he is senior to Kamboyo.

28 July 2006

It was a difficult day for Kora, who tried to resist having his daily injection, despite being rewarded with milk. He kept turning around to try and hide his hind legs. A number of Keepers had to restrain him. Meanwhile, in the next door Stockade, Lualeni was very sumpathetic, extending her trunk to touch him gently, and rumbling to him.

29 July 2006

Poor Kora is still limping, and walking slowly, behind the other elephants, although Sian remains with him to keep him company. The Keepers are happy that his injections are now over, and that he can heal and regain his agility

30 July 2006

Shida decided that he did not want to come back to his Night Stockade today, and ran towards the Banda Gate. It was only after the Keepers managed to convince him to follow them, when it was getting dark, that he complied.

31 July 2006

Shida emerged from his Stockade today not happy, and charged a group of warthogs. One refused to run away, and in turn charged at Shida, but decided that discretion was the better part of valour when Shida pressed home the charge, and threatened the warthog with his horn.