Friday, August 19, 2022

Bubble themed Birthday for Frankie

Frankie the birthday boy

It was all bubbles on Tuesday, August 16, at the Columbus Zoo elephant house, in honor of Frankie's first birthday. It was also a celebration of Asian Elephant Awareness Month. The press was there in full force, as well as a crowd of zoo visitors, many of whom came that day especially for the bubbles birthday party. 

Frankie amidst the bubbles and the protective herd

At first, the adult elephants were a little put off by the mysterious bubbles raining down from the ceiling, and closed ranks to protect little Frankie from whatever it was. They made various noises, and kicked up dust, while Frankie hid inside the moving walls of older elephant ladies.

The elephant herd in Columbus includes six elephants: Baby Frankie; Mother Phoebe, who was born in Israel in 1987 and came to Columbus in 2002; Connie, who was born in the wild in 1973, lived in the San Diego Safari Park and came to Columbus in 1992;  Rudy, born in 1992 in the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Elephant Center and came to Columbus in 2016; Rudy's full sister Sundara born in 2008 at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, also coming to Columbus in 2016, when the circus stopped using elephants; and father Hank, born in 1988 in Bush Gardens Tampa Bay, lived in the Bronx Zoo, who came to Columbus in 2011. 

The older lady elephants, including mom Phoebe,
close ranks around the bahy.

Some of the elephants tried to diffuse the bubbles by throwing up dust.

The bubbles sparkled around the elephant family.

Soon, the elephants realized there was no threat, and Frankie was able to run about, although never far from his mother Phoebe.

Frankie in the splash pool. Trying to figure it out.
 Something is different.

The big pool against the back wall on the left had turned into a big bubble bath. Once they got used to the bubbles, Frankie and the other elephants really enjoyed the pampering. The elephants have a handle to turn on the faucet whenever they want to a shower.

One of the zoo photographers catches Frankie's attention.
There is mom Phoebe by Frankie's side.

Soap on Frankie's trunk and legs.

Frankie has quite a bit of reddish hair
 on his head and back.

Photography isn't easy with a moving subject,
 bubbles and ropes to pull the camera's focus,
 and a large crowd of birthday party guests up against the glass. 

Frankie likes to run around. The adults try to keep up.

Is it a really big bubble? No, it is Frankie's favorite ball.

Little Frankie, and someone's tail.

All bubbles, all the time. It was something new for the elephants.

Frankie and the herd wander over to investigate the cameras.

Little Frankie was all set to celebrate his first birthday back in mid-June, and then his half brother Beco became ill with the deadly Elephant herpes virus, so the party was postponed, of course. Sadly Beco, who was 13 and thought to be past the danger of the virus, died on June 18.

Beco was born in the Columbus Zoo to Phoebe in 2009. The elephant herpes virus has claimed many other young elephants, both in the wild and in zoos. Much research is being conducted and new treatments provide some hope. It seems to be triggered by stress. Lifechanging events like weaning seem to make a young elephant vulnerable. But no one really knows.
Hopefully, the new treatment strategies will help with recovery.

Frankie's father Hank waited outside the elephant barn. Frankie was conceived via artificial insemination,
but the sperm donor was resident elephant bull Hank.
 Trying the natural way just wasn't working.

Frankie in the bubble bath, between mom Phoebe
 and probably Aunt Ruby

The End.

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