This morning the doctor called around 8am with a status on Bentley. He’s been in the hospital again since early yesterday morning. His sugar spiked up to 700 from 600 earlier in the day and it wasn’t going down then overnight it stayed around 500. He was twitching from neurological problems, most likely caused by the sugar being so high for 3 or maybe even more days. His kidneys were starting to fail. They scheduled a sonogram for 9:30 to see what was going on with him. This hospital doesn’t have weekend hours, but their Dallas location does and his doctor will be working all weekend, so she was going to bring him with her this afternoon, just like they did last time he was there. She said that if things got worse then we would have to make a decision because his quality of life is going downhill, but the decision is ours.
I got a call from the hospital again, sometime around 10:30 to come and talk with the doctor. When I got there, they brought me in back and he was hooked up to all sorts of equipment, his little head resting on a pillow for comfort. His eyes were open but he didn’t see. I was stroking his head and he closed his eyes. His body was twitching every so often, which was due to the swelling of his brain. They were giving him insulin for sugar, steroids to reduce the brain swelling, pain medicine for the pain, fluids… and whatever else. He was non-responsive. The doctor said it was my choice as to what to do, he was going downhill quickly, but if I wanted, she would bring him to Dallas and monitor him there and of course, do whatever she could to help heal him or at least keep him comfortable. Tom is in Seattle on business and I had no cell service in the hospital, so I went outside to call him and to talk about everything. He knew he was in the hospital, but didn’t know the details from the night before and that morning. We decided to send him to Dallas and hope for the best.
While I was outside on the phone, the doctor came running out, Bentley took a turn for the worst. When I went in there they were trying to revive him, but his little heart gave out. He made the decision for me. It’s really hard to accept this, it was all so quick, or maybe it wasn’t. From the sonogram, the doctor found that his pancreas was a mess, she could do further testing because he wasn’t strong enough. Everything seemed to indicate an aggressive pancreatic tumor. She found a few other things too, but right now it’s all a blur to me. I’m glad I was there with him, but so sad that he’s gone. Rest in peace, our funny little boy Bentley. We will all miss you.
Today was my second day volunteering at the Fort Worth Zoo. Schools were all off for President’s Day, the weather was in the 70’s with a prediction of rain, but if it rained at all, it was just sprinkles. My first day last week was very quiet, it was cold and cloudy, so there were very few visitors.
I’m working in MOLA (Museum of Living Arts). I got there at 10 and the only people there were employees. It was so nice and tranquil, soothing music, low lighting and fish, reptiles and amphibians all inside their glass walled rooms and aquariums. I’m stationed at the reptile encounter desk. A keeper had “Sandy”, a 12 year old Trans Pecos Rat Snake. They come from western Texas. They rotate keepers and their animals every hour between 10-2 pm, so there are 4 different animals over the course of the day. They don’t want the animals out any longer than an hour each.
The next one was another Trans Pecos Rat Snake. This one was much smaller and he was about two years old. They can’t tell the sex of a snake externally, they can only tell with a probe. Snakes live about 30 years, that surprised me, I didn’t realize that they lived so long. I don’t know much about snakes, but I’m learning. I found out that snakes are not poisonous, they are venomous. Venoms toxins are only harmful by injection, poison is harmful upon ingestion and sometimes by touch. As long as someone does not have internal bleeding, venom can be swallowed with no adverse effects (although I wouldn’t want to try it). I also found out that snakes have many rows of teeth. Venomous snakes also have fangs. I also found out that there is a spot where snakes excrete their waste (aka go potty). There’s an opening at the base of their tail where it meets their body, called the cloaca (in English it means sewer) and that’s where everything comes out, including eggs. That’s also where a probe would go to check for the sex of the snake. When you look at a snake, you can’t really see a definition of where the snake body ends and where the tail begins, I guess I never realized they were separate. Snakes smell through their tongues, which I also thought was interesting and that’s why they stick their tongue out so often.
The next snake to come out was a Thai Bamboo Rat Snake, I think he was about 16, but I’m not sure. He was a beautiful sort of translucent looking snake. He is much smaller than the others. The next and last one was a Black Milk Snake, he was huge! I was surprised at how soft and even kind of squishy they all are and also surprised at how unafraid I was of them.
The zoo opened at 10, and it’s a little bit of a walk from admission to MOLA, so it took about a half hour for visitors to come to MOLA. On the way to MOLA are the gorillas. They’re always fun to watch, especially when little Gus is out. The flamingos and other animals are are also on the way, so people stop along the way and take their time.
A few visitors trickled in every so often, then at about 11am people were pouring in and it was pretty much a steady stream until 2, which is when they stop bringing animals out for the reptile experience.
The snakes just stay with the keepers, they wiggle in and out of their hands and visitors are allowed to very very gently pet them. The keepers are very gentle with them. This exhibit is a big hit, everyone, and I mean everyone who came was happy abd enjoying the experience. Two young girls came running up to me so excited because they really love snakes, we had a long talk about snakes.
This one was the Thai Bamboo Rat Snake.
It was interesting to see the reactions of people to snakes. A few really loved snakes, most were curious and wanted to touch them and then others that stood way back, a few couldn’t even look. One lady was with her family, her children were all petting the snake, so was her husband, but no way in the world would she do it. At first she was standing back, then she came a bit closer and started talking to me. She is afraid of snakes and thought they were slimy. When her d]family finished they all went to another section and then they came back to pet the snake again, this one was different, it was the big Black Milk Snake. Their mother came a bit closer to the stanchions this time and we were talking. She seemed somewhat intrigued but very unsure. Well after a lot of talking, she eventually tried it. She was amazed at how soft he was and seemed to be happy that she tried it and her family couldn’t stop talking about her petting the snake.
One person came up to me and thanked me for what I do, (I sometimes get that when I volunteer at the Dallas Zoo too), another came up and was sure that there was a dead turtle, I went over with her to look and (thankfully) the turtle moved. Then another family came up to me to tell me that they thought a lizard was stuck in its cage on the ceiling, that too turned out ok (phew!).
My main job at MOLA is crowd control… making sure that the line moves and telling people how to pet the snake (or lizard or whatever they have out). I’m working in MOLA now to get ready for Spring Break. It gets really busy and they need help with the lines of people who want to come to the Reptile Experience. For now, it’s a good way to break in to get ready for their busy week. The flow of people was steady, but not enough for big lines, so I was able to stay by the keepers. This was about the size of the longest line, so I didn’t have to worry about keeping the line moving.
After Spring Break I will move onto other sections of the zoo by the elephants and giraffes. I must say though, that I am enjoying working in MOLA so much more than I ever thought I would.
After I was finished and signed out, I ran over to the elephants and saw that Colonel, one of the male elephants, was out in the big yard and Belle and Rasha were in the smaller yard, Bluebonnet and Angel were in the back, I’m not sure where Bowie was, maybe he was with Bluebonnet and Angel, I couldn’t tell.
The hippos, were out of the water and a keeper was spraying water at them, they seemed to love it. One hippo is Jonesy and the other is Daisy, but I don’t know yet who is who. I’ll find out when I start working over there.
Soon the hippos will be moved to their new habitat when the new savanna is finished. The savanna is coming along, there is a lot of construction going on now. The new changes will be very exciting and much needed!
I decided to run out to my car to get my good camera so I could get some good photos of the animals, so here are a few of them.
As it always is there, it was a great day at the zoo, and now it’s even more special because I’ve been waiting for over a year to hopefully work there… and now I’m a part of it. This is a brand new volunteer program for the zoo and I’m happy to be there from the beginning. It will be exciting to see all of the new changes at the zoo once the new savanna is completed.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
Back in July, my dance studio put out a notice that they were looking to train new dance teachers. Teaching dance is something that I have considered, but thought that I was not qualified to teach, so I never pursued it. Besides that, I really didn’t know how to do it, and to do it right. I saw the notice and even though they were looking for people of all levels, I still didn’t think that I would be qualified. So as it turned out, I was at the studio for my Argentine Tango lessons and practicing with my tango partner. He mentioned that he was going to do the training, so, I thought, well, why not? It can’t hurt to try. So now here I am, almost 3 months later and in the last month of my training classes and loving every minute of it. The training classes consist of doing all of the beginner classes at the studio. We received a list of the five figures for ballroom and social dances. Each month we have a progress check at the end of the month to see how we are progressing. We have to learn both the lead and the follow for the figures.
So now we are into our third month of beginner training. For the final progress check we were asked to write about what motivated us to dance. For me, it started when I was very young with the movies, Cinderella and White Christmas…Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen dancing to “The Best Things happen When You’re Dancing” and Cinderella’s Waltz. To this day, I cannot see enough of those scenes and movies. I have since added Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s final dance scene in Dirty Dancing to my top 3 list of favorite dance scenes. It has always been my dream to dance like any one those characters in the movies, but I never had the opportunity or the confidence to do it.
I took my share of jazz, ballet and tap lessons while growing up but never felt comfortable in the role of being a a dancer. I felt clumsy and awkward, so I stopped. In my early adult years I tried belly dancing which I liked but there were no studios that I knew of and only private lessons which I couldn’t afford.
So later on, after marrying and then adopting our daughter, we explored dance lessons, ice skating, sports, for her. She fell in love with ballet, so I became a ballet mom. I was immersed in my daughter’s world of ballet, her teachers (mostly Russian), lessons, rehearsals, recitals and competitions and as she got older commuting to NYC for her ballet training. The ballet world is different and I guess in some ways isolated from the normal world, but we loved it. I learned to hand sew tutus for performances and other dance costumes. I never minded not doing ballet myself because my daughter was such a beautiful dancer and I was busy with her life. In 2004, she went to college at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas and after she graduated (summa cum laude) majoring in English, History and a minor in British History. After she graduated in 2008 we moved to Fort Worth from NJ. I would drive past the Arthur Murray Studio on my way home from wherever I was and I would see the dancers dancing in the window, not unlike Richard Gere in the movie, “Shall We Dance” and just kept thinking about it. I was taking tennis lessons a few days a week (I did that in New Jersey too) and two ladies in my group class were telling me that I moved like a dancer. I never thought of myself as being graceful, but with them telling me that many times, I thought that I would try Ballroom dancing, so I started looking around.
There were three ballroom studios in the Fort Worth area. I didn’t look at Arthur Murray because it was too much money, so I checked the other two and ended up at the The Fort Worth Dance Studio (which is now a Fred Astaire Studio). The lady that owned the studio heard my accent and asked where I was from, and it turned out that she too was from New Jersey. So that was the clincher for joining that studio. I took the trial classes with my husband, but he had no interest in dancing, so I ended up doing it on my own. The studio turned out to be much more expensive than we could afford, so I couldn’t stay there and I had to move on. I was so attached to my teacher, he was very first ballroom dance teacher, he made it fun and gave me a love for it. It was so hard to leave that studio, I was used to my teacher and the people, I was comfortable there, but I had to move on. I then started ballet, Flamenco, Argentine Tango and salsa lessons and I also kept up with some ballroom privates at the studio I’m at now, DanceMakers of Fort Worth. I also went to Dallas for some swing lessons. I was hooked, addicted to dancing. My husband traveled so it was easy for me and a good way to pass the time. Dance is also a great release from everyday problems, everything else disappears while dancing, just like the song from White Christmas.
I spent much of my dancing years doing salsa, then Argentine tango, but never completely left ballroom. My daughter doesn’t dance anymore other than the occasional ballet class. She was accepted at TCU as a Ballet Major, but she had an ankle injury which prevented her from going en pointe, so she had to change her major. She has excelled in a different direction and is now an editor for a magazine in Dallas. I am still dancing every day, much of it now is for teacher training but I also do Argentine tango for the performance groups and to keep learning. I will be getting back to ballet probably next month, but I have completely stopped Flamenco. My goal with dance is to keep improving and hopefully to inspire those who would like to learn to dance, including those who think they are too old or as many say “have two left feet”. Neither one of those are true, and I am the perfect example of that. If someone wants to do something and has the will to do it, it can be done.
Thank you for reading this as always!
Ok, so this morning I went to visit my mom in the nursing home. I moved her on election day (I only mention that because it’s an easy way to remember the day I moved her) from her old place, Trinity Healthcare, back to the Cityview Care Center where she first started out in a nursing home back in 2011.
In 2013 on Halloween, Cityview had me move her out because she was an escape risk. My mom has dementia/Alzheimers and at the time, Cityview did not have any secured units. So in one day, I had to find a new place for her, which ended up being Mira Vista. Mira Vista was brand new and I was assured that the reason they were moving her there was because it was a secured facility. They had keypads on all of the doors to enter and exit. Well… as it turned out, they didn’t want her either. So in June of 2015, Mira Vista wanted her out because, again, she was an escape risk. These places don’t give much notice. It’s state law that they have to give 30 days, unless, there’s some reason not to, and they always find a reason why there has to be a move.
I can’t even describe how I felt and how I was ever going to find a place for her in one day. This was a Thursday. I looked all over, and to make this short, I ended up at The Courtyards, in White Settlement. When I got there, I just broke down, how could I make this decision in just one day? They were so nice and so caring there, It was not a pretty place, but I liked the staff, so I chose to send her there. The next day they moved her. It was a locked unit, they kept the women in separate wings than the men. I left her husband, Bob, back at Mira Vista for the time being.
The Courtyards Nursing home was nice enough, the people, not the place. The first month that she was there, though, another resident pushed her out of her wheelchair and she fractured her hip. She had to go to the hospital and had a pin put in. After that, she was never the same. The dementia seemed to have progressed.
In January, The Courtyards sold out to Trinity Healthcare. Everything changed, the people were gone and new people came in. I was having a lot of problems with Medicaid and the billing department at Mira Vista, so to make a long story short, I moved Bob into Trinity Healthcare with my mom, but in a different wing, since he did not need lockdown (aka secured unit). As the year went on (2016), Trinity had about four different Administrators, the Billing Dept. had about 3-4 changes of people, the nurses and other staff from Courtyards that were so caring were moved out and new ones moved in. By October everything was so different, the staff was not caring the way they used to be and for the most part very inaccessible. There were so many problems, that I finally decided to move them again, something that I wished I wouldn’t have to do again.
Moving nursing home residents takes a toll on them, even if the place is not perfect. I found out that Cityview (the first place they were in), now has a secured Memory Care Unit. I went to visit and it was like going back home. The same staff that was there back in 2013 is still there. That spoke volumes to me. They also remembered my mom and Bob (and me) and were so happy they were returning. Thankfully, they had openings in both the Memory Care unit for my mom, and the regular wing for her husband.
So, on election day I moved them.
Cityview’s Memory Care Unit is brand new, only a few months old. It’s very pretty, bright, cheery, and they have a lot of activities to keep the residents busy and happy enough. Trinity Healthcare, was pretty much like the walking dead, they did nothing at all to keep the residents happy. The residents would stay in the main room, and the staff barely did anything with them. There were very few activities, the only activity I ever saw was Friday afternoon Karaoke. Other than that, they just existed. It took my mom a couple of days to return to her normal mood, but she seemed happy and content enough.
Then, two Sundays ago, I received a call that she fell and bruised her face, the call was about 6:30 am, and this happened about 1:30 am. They said that they checked her and there was no sign of any broken bones, just a bad bruise. So I went to see her that evening (I couldn’t get there during the day), and the bruise was very scary.
I went back the next day, Monday, and talked with the nurse again and they were going to check into it further. Well, by Tuesday, the bruise was very bad and her whole demeanor went downhill so quickly. I got there early on Tuesday afternoon and she wasn’t responsive at all. The doctor came in and said that she’s got to go for a CT scan at the hospital. What happened, was that she fell out of bed and that was the second fall out of bed that she had within a few days, and they have noticed a decline in her responsiveness.
The head nurse came in and told me that I should consider hospice for her. Well, I just broke down, hospice to me, was just a death sentence. I had a talk with the hospice nurse and she made me understand a little more about it. Later on someone else came in to talk to me more about hospice and the three of us talked about what they do. I was feeling more comfortable with the idea of it. While we were talking the ambulance arrived to take my mom to the hospital.
Something I didn’t know is that hospice isn’t a death sentence, (although, I guess in a sense, life is ultimately a death sentence), but of course, it’s only for those that are seriously ill. They have more checks and balances than the nursing home and they work with them. She will stay at Cityview, it’s fully covered by Medicaid. Hospice will have their nurses and aides coming in to check in her, stay with her, develop a relationship with her, bathe her and just spend time with her. She will still also be under the care of the Cityview staff and they work together with hospice. Hospice sometimes brings in their own beds and other things they will bring In a better wheel chair that reclines, so if she falls asleep sitting, she can lay back.. They will not force her to take huge vitamins that she can’t swallow, some of the meds will be stopped … one is Aricept which is a drug to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, it’s already there, so slowing it down at this point doesn’t matter. The other is Plavix, that is a blood thinner and can be part of the reason why her bruise is so bad. They also will take her off of synthroid, she’s on a very low dosage for her thyroid… I can put her back on that and Medicaid and the nursing home will cover that, if we feel she needs it. She will stay on all quality of life meds and if necessary they will increase the ativan (anti-anxiety medicine) if necessary.
They allow their patients to eat whatever they want, if they want something that’s not on their diet. They have people that have actually improved while being on hospice, of course that’s dependent upon the person and their medical condition. If they need it at the end, they will have someone with them 24 hrs a day at their bedside. She will stay at Cityview instead of another facility. If they need her to be transferred somewhere else, the same hospice nurses and aides that she is familiar with will stay with her.
So it’s all about quality of life. On Wednesday I went back to talk more with hospice. I signed the papers and it should start on Wednesday.
So at first, the suggestion of hospice to me was a death sentence and I questioned why, but now that I know more about it, it’s the way it should be. She will have twice the amount of care now because the nursing home has to answer to them and to me instead of just me. They also have a very good relationship with the Cityview staff which helps.
I did bring Bob in to tell him and he was ok with it… I wanted him to stay and talk with hospice too but he wasn’t interested. I felt the need though, to make sure that I asked him, even though I already made the decision.
The hospital kept her longer than I expected, it turned out that she has a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) which can be very serious and even fatal in dementia patients.
On Thursday, Tom (my husband) and I went to visit her at the hospital. To me she looked almost like my father did the day before he died (he died of sepsis which can be the result of a UTI). It’s the UTI that is making her sick and I guess it’s good, in a sense, that she fell because it made them check for the UTI. At the hospital, she didn’t know me at all, but she wouldn’t let go of my hand. Her face is all bruised but no actual damage.
When I left there, I just didn’t know if she would make it, maybe she would, but Thursday night, she had that look that my father had at the end. She’s scared, I can see it in her eyes. She has tears in her eyes. She was very shaky and scared to death.
I never realized how dangerous a UTI is with the aged and especially dementia patients.. I thought it was just a urinary infection, but that infection can poison your whole body.
I spent Friday with hospice and the nurse at the nursing home (Cityview). They made me feel so much better. Then on Saturday, I went to her room and decorated a small Christmas tree for when she returned. I spent about two hours in her room, it felt comfortable to me, as if I was in her home. I just wanted to hang out there. I would like to bring some music in for her, but not sure how yet. Radio really doesn’t exist anymore and she can’t change CD’s. While I was decorating the tree, a couple of residents would come in and chat, Stella came in (my good old friend…she thinks she knows me and I play along with her, she’s a nice lady), she told me that pink isn’t her color, but she was wearing the pink pants anyway, I told her they looked nice. She hugged me and told me that she loves me (she does this to everyone.. lol), she liked the tree, I asked her if she was ready for Christmas and she shook her head and had to go on her way… I anm not sure why she’s there, probably dementia, but she’s fun.
One man was singing and walking down the hall, he stuck his head in and we small chatted for a minute.
Then an aide came in, he seems very caring and loves his job. He told me that my mother tosses and turns a lot in bed so he checks in on her often. He wasn’t there the night that this happened, but he said that you can’t just leave someone like her alone for long without checking on them. It seems to me that the staff is all questioning how this happened, probably not abuse, but maybe they didn’t check her enough. Anyway, I love the staff here and for the most part, they really are on top of everything.
Sunday, I went to wait for my mother, she was supposed to return to Cityview. Stella didn’t know who I was this time, I guess that’s why she’s there, but she was still happy to see me and still had her pink pants on. I was cooking tomato sauce on the stove, so I couldn’t wait for too long, I had to get back home to finish cooking. I’m glad I went though because the low bed that they were supposed to bring for her, was not there and I had to make sure they had it there before she came. When I left it still wasn’t there, but they were working on it.
Bob called a little later, he said he saw her and he said she was doing better than the last time he saw her. The hospice nurse called (after we finished dinner) and she needed for me to sign something, she was on her way so I had to run over and meet her there. When I got there, two aides were trying to calm her down. She was very agitated and scared. She started crying out loud. She eventually would calm down and then get up and try to get away and off of the bed.. she couldn’t relax. She knew me… sort of. Thankfully, she was in the low bed, it came just before she arrived.
The hospice nurse, came and just stayed for a little bit. They are keeping my mother on the antibiotics and Ativan (anti-anxiety) meds. Hospice thought that she should get a dose of Ativan to calm her down and help her sleep. I made sure that they would keep the door open during the night and check on her. She’s on the 15 minute check schedule now, for the normal residents it’s every 2 hrs,
After seeing her, I felt that this was the end. She was not good at all. It’s odd, her left eye is clear blue, not brown anymore. I don’t know what that means but it’s odd. Hospice was going back again the next day (Sunday) and if she’s very agitated again they will give her 24 hr bedside. So I started thinking that hospice really is a death sentence.
If she stays agitated they will give her morphine for pain and her other symptoms. Once they start with morphine, that’s pretty much it. Of course there’s always a chance she could recover, but I seriously doubt it. So now I know how I will react when she dies… I’m sad and I cry a lot. I don’t want her to go, but I think she has to. I have done all I could for her and not all of it was good. I probably left her at Trinity too long, but I’m happy that she’s in a nice and caring place now.
So Sunday morning (this morning) I went back to visit her. She was sound asleep. I sat with her for about an hour and played some Christmas music, she just slept. I went back home and then returned again in the afternoon with Tom. This time she was awake, she seemed so much better, much more responsive, she had a little sparkle in her eye and she (sort of) understood and could respond to what I said. I played some Christmas music on my iPhone and that seemed to make her a little happier. She smiled a lot and seemed content.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I was happy for today. I don’t know how long she will last, I don’t want her to suffer. I will see how it goes with her for the next few days.
Most everything I do is on hold for now, it has to be.
Thanks for reading, this is, in a way, my little way of releasing what I’m going through with her.
First of all, I noticed that I haven’t written anything for many many months! I have thought about it, but just haven’t had the chance to sit down and write.
As usual for this time of year, I am immersed in flamenco. I can’t say that I’m a flamenco dancer, I’m more of a stage flamenco performer. If someone asked me about any of the different flamenco palos, I would not be able to answer. I am familiar with them, but other than knowing some of their counts, I could never identify them. So I can’t say that I’m a real flamenco dancer, I just do flamenco choreography.
Right now we are getting ready for our Spring performance and our rehearsal schedule is at it’s max. The first performance is April 30, at Mayfest in Fort Worth. Our main performance will be on May 14 at the Scott Theater in Fort Worth. I am also doing an Argentine tango performance group and learning 3 and possibly 4 routines for that. I have had to put one of the tango routines, sort of on the back burner until flamenco is finished. I am trying to keep up with it (it’s a ladies tango routine), but right now flamenco has to take priority. I am hoping that I will be able to catch up with that once flamenco is finished. I am keeping up with the tango partnering routines. IN addition to the rehearsals and practice schedule, I am also working on costumes for flamenco and working on the remixing music (which seems to change every week, but I think it’s finalized now). I am also making the costumes for one of our tango routines. So my schedule has been hectic, to say the least. I’ve put most of my photography on hold for now. I am reconsidering what I’m doing with my photography, but that’s another blog for another time.
I have been very stressed about the flamenco choreography and getting it all done and right because I’ve been working on costumes and not spending as much time as I should be with practicing. This morning I went over the music for the other flamenco class with my instructor, she needed it slowed down in parts. She also needed her skirt to be repaired, The waist was too high on her, so the zipper needed to be removed and I needed to shorten the waist by about 4″. We went over some video so she could give me some corrections (the performance is in 2 days). My instructor left around 1and I needed to get away from everything, so last minute, I thought about taking a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo. The zoo is my stress free happy place, I go there and the minute I get through the gates, a calmness comes over me.
I headed over to the gorillas to see the new baby Gus, well, he’s almost 5 months old, but still a new baby. He and his parents weren’t out, so I thought that I’d go visit my elephants and then go back to see Gus and his family.
When I got to the elephants, Belle was in the back of the pool playing with water with her trunk and Rasha was in the front of the pool.. Bowie was somewhere in the back, I didn’t see him right away, he was in back. When he came out he was all muddy, so I’m assuming that he was swimming earlier and got wet. I have to say that it’s been almost 2 months since I’ve been able to visit them and they have grown dramatically! They are both very filled out now, Belle is still larger than Bowie, but from what I understand he will grow larger than her. Bowie’s little tusks are growing and he still has that cute little devilish look that he’s always had. Bowie started walking towards me and stayed with me for at least 20 minutes. Belle came over by him and so did Bluebonnet. I made a fun little video about my visit with them.
As usual, I spent at least an hour with the elephants, but I needed to get over to the gorillas to see baby Gus, but when I got there, he and his family were still not out.
I started talking to one of the zoo interpreters (Claire) that was standing there to answer questions, she said that they weren’t out all day today, there were only two gorillas outside while I was there. She pointed them out and identified them to me. Winifred was the one against the wall.She told me that Winifred (see some stats below of her, she was born in the Cincinnati Zoo, was the daughter of two other gorillas that are inside, Ramses and Amani). There are two sections for the gorillas and they are separated, Claire told me why, but I can’t remember the details, so I won’t put any suppositions in here. There’s Elmo’s troop (more about them below) and they are both inside and outside, but their inside part is behind the glass. The other two gorillas, Ramses and Amani, are inside in a man made mountain area under a large skylight roof.
The interpreter started telling me about Winifred and her parents. Winifred (aka Fred) is part of Elmo’s troop. The troop consists of Elmo and the females to simulate what it is like in the wild. There are about 4 or 5 females in Elmo’s troop and that is how they live in the wild, one male and a bunch of females that he will normally mate with. The only two that were outside yesterday when I was there were Jackie (female) and Winifred. Winifred (Fred) came from Cincinnati and she was born of Ramses and Amani. It seems that Amani didn’t know how to take care of a baby and she rejected her, so Fred was raised by humans. Even though Fred and her parents are all in the Fort Worth Zoo, she has no recollection or connection with her birth mother, so they didn’t put her with her parents when she came here, it was just a coincidence that she ended up in the same zoo. Her family (troop) is Elmo and his girls now and they are all a strong and close group.
The zoo controls pregnancies, I guess that’s something that’s understood, but I don’t think I ever really thought of it. The females are all on birth control (the same medications that people use) and they like it crushed up in their juice. The zoo didn’t want to mate Elmo with Jackie or Fred because they didn’t know their full genetic lineage. They brought Gracie here from the Oklahoma City Zoo for breeding with Elmo. They knew her genetics and that she would be a good match with Elmo for the species. It seems that Elmo was very shy and didn’t know how to approach Gracie, so Gracie took the initiative and eventually she became pregnant and birthed little baby Gus.
Elmo is a very attentive dad. The first time I was there, Gus (who had no name at the time, the Fort Worth Zoo held a contest to select his name) was only about a month old. Gracie just held him, fed him, she would lay down next to him and stroke his little head, it was all very tender and touching. Elmo would sit watch and when Gracie and Gus went into the caves, he would go in with them, and then come back out and keep watch. These photos are from March 4 of Gracie, Gus and Elmo.
It was all very interesting talking to Claire, she told me that they will be feeding Gus, Elmo and Gracie at 4:15 (it was about 4pm). After I was finished talking with Claire, I went inside and saw Ramses and Amani. I don’t have any photos of Amani (I’ll get them next time) but I do have some of Ramses.
I went inside to look for where Gus was going to be for their feeding, I saw Ramses and Amani in the middle, then decided to look down by glassed in area to see if Gus and his family would be there… Just when I got there, Gracie, Gus and Elmo all came out together… The minute they came out, one of the zookeepers came up behind me and told me that she saw me with the nice camera and let them out early for their feeding for me. That was so nice of her! They were behind glass and it was nice to watch how they interacted with each other close up.
That was my day at the zoo. It was a perfect escape from the stress of the past few weeks.
I hope you enjoy the photos and some of the information about the animals at the zoo. I am looking forward to watching little baby Gus grow up, the way I have watched Belle and Bowie.
Thank you for stopping by and reading this!
Info from Zoochat.com
Date of birth: Oct 17, 1990
Place of birth: Cincinnati
Location: Fort Worth Zoo
Parents: Ramses I and Amani
Siblings: Bawang, Muke, Ndume ½, M’Linzi, Unnamed ½, Rapunzel, Rumple’Skin ½, Rwanda ½, Penelope II½, Kubatiza, bo ½, Babuka
SIRE: Ramses I #0430 (1971- ), born at the Cincinnati Zoo, currently resides at the Fort Worth Zoo
DAM: Amani #0472 (1973- ), born at the Cincinnati Zoo, currently resides at the Fort Worth Zoo.
REARED BY: Hand
Yesterday, July 7, was Belle’s birthday. Belle is the first baby elephant born in 2013 at the Fort Worth Zoo, the other one is Bowie. I just got back from a short vacation in San Francisco on Monday night, so I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to find the time to visit with Belle. Last year, the zoo made hers and Bowie’s birthday very special for them, it was a big celebration, but for some reason, I didn’t see anything anywhere about them celebrating Belle’s or Bowie’s birthdays this year.
At about 2:30 pm, I decided to take a ride over to the zoo, it’s only about 15 minutes from my house, to see Belle and the others. When I got there, I noticed that the adult females (Rasha, Angel and Bluebonnet) and the two little ones (Belle and Bowie) were in the big yard. That’s not unusual, but what was unusual was that the gate to the small yard was closed. It’s normally only closed if Colonel or Casey are out in the big yard to keep them away from the babies, but it’s never closed (not when I have been there, anyway) when the girls and babies are in the yard.
I have been there to visit the elephants so often that I am sure they recognize me. It may sound crazy, but it’s ok, I still think they notice me.
The 3 adults were standing by the closed gate and the two little ones were playing along the back fence, not too far from the adults, they never wander away from them.
So Bluebonnet saw me, she looked at me and then did a trunk wave! She and Rasha do that to me a lot!
Then I noticed that the zookeepers were all standing by the fence where the visitors normally stand and they were recording something in the small yard with their phones. The elephants started walking into the small yard, (someone must have opened the gate) and they were all surprised with a bamboo party for Belle! They were having so much fun, breaking bamboo, chewing it and playing with it and the zookeepers seemed to be having just as much fun, watching them with the bamboo.
I was talking with one of the zookeepers and he said that the zoo decided not to celebrate individual birthdays this year because so many of the animals had babies (3 giraffes, 3 baby lion cubs, a bonobo, last year a waterbuck and a jaguar, two years ago a baby one horned rhino… and I’m sure I’m missing a few), but the elephant zookeepers couldn’t just let Belle’s birthday go without a celebration. So they closeed the gate and put bamboo all over the ground and put some for fun in the round balls with holes and when they were finsihed “decorating” they opened the gate so they could all celebrate. My timing for going was perfect and I was so happy that I snuck a couple of hours out of my day to visit.
Here’s a very short video
As always, thank you for reading this!
This summer, Belle and Bowie are celebrating their first birthdays! Belle’s is July 7, 2013 and Bowie’s is August 5, 2013… almost a month apart. Belle is Bowie’s Aunt… Belle is the sister of Bluebonnet who is Bowie’s mom and both Belle and Bluebonnet are daughters of Rasha.
I have been watching them grown since they were introduced to the public and they have grown so much over the year! They’re still babies and small next to their moms, but they have filled out so much even in the past month since I’ve seen them last. The Fort Worth Zoo had a birthday bash for Belle this past weekend and Bowie’s will be coming up in August. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to make it, but I did made sure to get there today to see them. Bowie is still smaller than Belle and for longest time he was very thin compared to Belle, but he’s really filled out. He still has that cute little mullet on top of his head.
They were all in the big pen by the pool, Belle did splash around in the pool for awhile, but for the most part they all were pretty quiet and just walked around as a herd.
I also stopped by to see Asha and her mom Shanti… They were busy eating… I got some cute photos of them too, they were very aware of me and wouldn’t keep their eyes off of me!
I hope you enjoy the photos!
As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!
I finally got back to the zoo today, it’s been months since I’ve been there to see the babies because of my flamenco rehearsals and everything else that I’ve been doing. It was 98 degrees out with only 8% humidity, so for me, the weather was perfect. I don’t normally go on Sundays because of the crowds, but with Mayfest going on this weekend, I thought the zoo may be a little less crowded.
When I got there I found that Belle and Bowie along with Rasha, Bluebonnet and Angel were all out in the big pen., I was happy to see that, now they a lot of room to roam around and do what they do. They still keep the males separate from the females and I saw Casey in the back pen. The zoo is currently in the process of expanding the whole elephant area because of their growing herd.
Belle and Bowie have both grown, I think the biggest difference was with Bowie, he seemed a little more filled out, but he is still smaller than Belle. They both seemed a little bit more subdued than they have been the other times I saw them maybe it was the heat, it was also later in the day, so maybe they were tired. They both tended to stick a little closer to their mother more than they did with each other. Belle is a little bit lighter in color than Bowie, she is a sandy colored gray, Bowie is more of a very dark gray and Bowie seems to have more marks on him, and he has the cutest little mullet of hair on the top of his head!
When Belle stands she likes to stand with her back legs crossed, it’s just so cute… Bowie does it too but not quite as much as Belle.
When I first got there Angel was in front and she was breaking sticks and chewing them, actually they were big logs. Rasha was also busy breaking some sticks.
The zoo keepers came out to clean up and Bowie went running to them and walked by their side. He followed the zookeeper the whole time they were out there. Bowie seems so warm and snuggly, he seems to love people and I think they love him. I would do anything to be able to go into the pen and pet them.
I’m not sure what happened but Rasha and Bluebonnet were standing in front of the two babies, the babies were against the fence.. Rasha took her trunk and smacked one of the babies with it and he fell to the ground and screamed. I’m not sure if it was belle or Bowie because they were behind the two adults… (Angel was still breaking logs oblivious to what was going on with the babies). It was a little disturbing to see, but the baby got back up and it didn’t seem to phase them one bit.
Belle and Rasha went over to the pool I’m not sure what Rasha was doing but she was facing the fence with her back to everything while Belle was exploring the pool. She put her little trunk in to drink the water, and then touched it with her front legs and then walked around the perimeter of the pool. Then she slowly made her way into the pool to play and swim. Later on Bowie went over to the pool with Bluebonnet (his mom) but he didn’t go in, he stayed by the side and played with the water with his trunk.
This view is of Belle playing in the pool.
Thanks for reading my blog about the elephant babies. Below is a gallery of more photos.
And one more thing, here is an interesting article from National Geographic about elephant calls and what they mean:
On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, I took a small trip to the zoo. It’s been weeks since I’ve seen the babies, I’ve had so much going on with my dance showcase at the YMCA with rehearsals and performances. I did stop by the day after my performance on January 15, but it was too cold and they weren’t out when I was there and they keep them inside when the temperature is too cold.
I thought they would have grown more than they did, because it seems as if it’s been so long since I’ve been there to see them, but they are still babies and still so small and so much fun to watch. I planned on just staying 15 minutes, but that 15 minutes turned into an hour and a half! When I first got there, Belle and Bowie were both nursing on their moms (Belle’s mom is Rasha and Bowie’s is Bluebonnet). They were a little quiet and subdued… then about a half hour later, they started playing. I just love watching them play. The moms keep them under control when they get a little too crazy and they will swat them with their trunks. When I first saw that happen, it disturbed me a little, then I realized, it’s just the mom reprimanding their babies. Bowie was especially active and he was jumping on Belle, and burying his head in the sand… I feel so privileged to be able to live somewhere that I am able to experience the growth of these two little baby elephants.
The Fort Worth Zoo is in the process of expanding the area for the elephants to accommodate their growing herd, they recently announced it on their Facebook page.
Casey (the one tusked male elephant) was in his area (they keep the males and females separate, just as it would be in the wild) but I noticed that he spent most of his time at the fence watching the females and babies. I also noticed that Angel (one of the females) spent a lot of time in the corner watching Casey… hmmm… I wonder if something is going on there?
I am posting some photos of the babies playing and some of the adults. I also visited the orangoutangs, the meerkats and flamingoes…
I hope you enjoy the photos, and again, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.
I found a little bit of time to go visit the Fort Worth Zoo today. Belle and Bowie were especially playful. I spent just over an hour there photographing them and watching them play. I just can’t seem to get enough of them!
This morning I stopped by the zoo to see the babies. I saw the Meerkats on the way there, they are always looking around and so much fun to watch. Then I stopped by Casey, the one-tusked male Asian elephant, he was eating his morning hay. It was early and the females and babies weren’t out yet, so I stopped by the Hippo’s next door, one of them was out of the water eating breakfast and the other was swimming, when (s)he was finished eating, (s)he joined the other hippo to go for a swim.
The elephants are normally out at about 10:15am, but this morning they were late, they made their appearance around 10:30, the zoo keepers walked the elephants into the penned area, and then, Rasha, Bluebonnet and Angel all waved their trunks at usâ¦ then they went about their business, eating breakfast.
Bowie is getting so big! He’s filling in and not looking so skinny anymore, but he’s still very tiny compared to Belle. Today, Bowie was very active, it was the first time I saw him eating hay and he also threw some sand on himself. He kept nudging Belle with his trunk, normally, she’s the nudger… and normally Belle is the one running around, but today it was Bowie.
I only stayed for about a half hour, I had things to do, but wanted to stop and visit since later on this week we are expecting cold temperatures and an ice storm. They will not let the elephants out in ice to make sure that they don’t slip on it and hurt themselves. After the elephants, I stopped by to see Ralph, the new baby Waterbuck, he has grown so much! I guess Waterbucks grow much quicker than elephants.
All in all it was a quick, but good day at the zoo, the weather was comfortable with not too many crowds. I do notice that people stop, look at the elephants and then they move onto the next group of animals. Children seem to be more interested in the giraffes and lions than the elephants, although everyone loves seeing the babies. The Interpreters aren’t around much anymore, I guess they were there in the beginning because so many people had questions about the new babies, but now they babies are a few months old.
I will keep watching them as they grow, maybe one day they’ll notice who I am!
Thanks for reading looking at my photos!