Monthly Archives: July 2015

DREAMS

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lions

A Dream  Memoire

I can hear tigers and lions, roaring and huffing and I can see them circling the house. They are charging the windows and doors and the whole house shakes and shudders under each charge. I am terrified I know that they will kill me if they reach me.

I have a deep-seated fear of the big cats. I admire their beauty and their strength and at the same time understand and respect their power. I live near Australia Zoo. Am I frightened about what might happen if there is a breakout? I don’t think so because this dream is one I have had off and on for as long as I can remember. When we lived in Melbourne I can remember having this dream.

I used to work at Melbourne Zoo in a voluntary capacity as a Zoo Guide and provided guided tours. Often we would do behind the scenes tours that involved going to the rear of the big cat enclosures and I would always stand right at the back as far away from the lions as I could get.  I do not have quite the same fear with the tigers, although still very wary and respectful.  On the flip side of the coin, I love Lynxes and Cheetahs and have had close encounters with both. I am not frightened of them.

When the children were very young, we had come to Melbourne on holiday and had driven down from Canberra. This was in the 1970’s.  In those days,  we had a Yellow Volkswagon with black GT stripes.  It was affectionately called the pregnant pastie on wheels.  My partner insisted on going to the Bacchus Marsh Lion Park. It was a drive through, a pseudo game reserve.   We had two very small children in car seats in the rear. I was terrified beyond belief. Once the car was surrounded by lions, all of which appeared bigger than the car itself. I was totally freaked out especially when one of the lions got up on the bonnet of the car.  I felt like we were the first course at the banquet. They must have liked the colour yellow as they were around the car like flies to a honey-pot.

We had to stop the car because of the press of animals around it.  The park ‘rangers’ had to come out in their land rover and move the animals away.  I don’t remember much more about it except that I have never been so frightened in all my life and my partner and I ended up having a huge row over the incident.

Some years later the park was shut down by the authorities.  There were stories of neglect and mismanagement and from memory I believe many of the animals were euthanized.

Maybe that has something to do with my dream. It is extremely unpleasant and I wake each time drenched in sweat and my heart beating so loud I am sure it can be heard beating.

Out of curiosity, I looked up a dream symbolism book to see if it could provide me with insight into the dream.

‘This lion dream scenario is classic. Dreaming of being chased by a lion is one of the most common themes featuring this creature in the dream world. The lion chasing you is  generally connecting  to the struggle the dreamer is experiencing regarding feelings of anger or aggression in waking life.

The dream about your lion spirit animal could point to anger you may feel towards someone or aggression that is directed at you. Being chased by a lion in a dream could be a warning from your animal totem that you’re struggling with these feelings and how to express them. The lion totem could mean that you’re having difficulties dealing with a situation where someone is mean or aggressive with you.’

That does not make it much clearer. Perhaps I was or am struggling with a sense of anger or disempowerment.  All I know  is that after half a lifetime when it occurs, it still scares me witless even though I know at the time that I am dreaming.

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WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS

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LEMONDADE

a friend of mine reminded me that I had written this piece some time ago. Thank you,  you know who are.

Writing Challenge 3 prompts challenge:

Lemons
Keys
Hair Ties

When life hands you lemons,  make lemonade,” that’s what my Gran always says.

But then these days she says some crazy things. The other day she told me that the car wouldn’t start without hair ties.  What she really meant was it wouldn’t start without the keys.

She does crazy things too, like she puts the keys and her hair ties in the freezer.  Why would you do that?

My Gran has lovely hair, it’s that beautiful white grey, not yucky dull grey.  Her hair is long and she wears it in a plait that hangs down her back.

My Gran likes to wear tied dyed pants and boho tops and leather sandals.  Mum says she is a Hippy  who  hasn’t grown up.  My Mum is very practical.

Mum gets angry at her sometimes because she tells the same stories over and over again.     My Gran loves to tell me stories of when she was growing up, and how she marched down the streets of Melbourne to protest against the Vietnam War.

She talks to me about a coffee shop in Carlton called, The Bread Stick where she used to have lunch every day when she worked at the University.

The pottery shop next door called Portobello Road, where she purchased things for her glory box on lay-by. Then she explained to me what those words meant.

She talks about typewriters and record players. She has an iPod now.   My Gran was smart and funny and laughed a lot.

Now she is sad, and cries and says she feels lost.

My Gran had her beautiful hair cut today because she isn’t well enough to keep it looked after, so Mum took her to get it cut.

My Gran is sick she has a brain illness. Some people call it dementia.  That’s why we sometimes find the keys, the hair ribbons and the lemons in the freezer.

I love my Gran, she isn’t crazy, she is sick.

I asked Gran how she feels and she smiled a sad smile and said, “When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. What else can you do?”  

 

FEEDBACK

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Final feedback has been made available on the semester work and I am really  thrilled with these two pieces of feedback.

On my Lewy Body artefact  – The ideas are complex and the artefact is structured in a surprising fashion that integrates some artistic devices with non-fiction writing,…taking into account the complexity of this project and  it’s ambitious attempt to blend to distinct ways of knowing, this assignment represents an applied effort and considerable skill as a writer.

On The Ladybird, The Mace and The Ripper  –   You’ve used language quite well to keep the atmosphere of the times – phrases like “kip”, “ladybird”, “knobkerrie”. The character dialogue rings fairly true of the times (not that I know how people really spoke back then… the point is, you had me believing their dialogue was authentic.)

Your description is sometimes spot on and sometimes could do with being more detailed and immersive.

Your action sequences – for example, the rape, and Maddy striking back – could be enhanced with more verisimilitude. Things like, what Maddy’s eyes may randomly focus on in the room (on the ceiling, for example) as this business unfolds… or, the random thoughts which may pop into someone’s head, unbidden, during such an event. It’s a confronting scene, so I’m not saying it needs to be more violent or explicit, but more detailed in other ways, for true verisimilitude. That’s the difference between writing something merely serviceable as opposed to something absolutely immersive. You’re not far from it, these are suggested enhancements to make the scene really sparkle.

As for structure: I was concerned that you weren’t going to be able to end this effectively, but I was pleasantly surprised by how you got around that puzzle via the journal entry epilogue… quite clever, actually…

On the whole, a good effort: a good, relevant and original idea, well researched, and well executed. Good job, Linda.

Final Semester Results

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WRITERThis morning I have to brag …just a little bit.  Last semester was the hardest semester I have put in. I decided to undertake 4 writing/ English  subjects.  Not a good move. My work suffered because of the pressure and the amount of reading required.  For some reason, I could not get a handle on the English subject and I realise that there is an ocean of difference in how you think creatively  and how you think analytically.  I was so pleased this morning when I looked at my results on the Uni  Website. Three Distinctions and a Credit.  To achieve the credit in EGL 201, my last assignment was graded with a distinction.  I am doing a little happy  dance  – no, I’m not, I am shouting from the tree tops. So relieved.  I really would  have preferred HD’s but very happy with where I am.

Glass Pens

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glass pens

These beautiful glass pens are  available at ILLUME  in Montville.

I purchased one last Friday and have spent a wonderful week doodling and exploring the delight of writing with a dip pen.

Not cheap but not that expensive for a beautiful unique one-off piece of artwork that is useful and extremly useable

So beautiful to write with and a dream to hold …In store service was excellent.

These pens are made locally by Wolfgang Engel ~ you may also buy an inkpot, a stand and a pen holder all unique pieces of the glass blowers art,  www.wolfgangengelartglass.com.au

MISS MARPLE I PRESUME?

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Stepping back to avoid soiling her red heels, she surveyed the mess at her feet. You could not classify what she saw as a body it had been too mutilated to be recognizable as a whole human form. There were bits that she could identify as   human, but as for the rest of it, they would have to wait for the forensic team to make a determination.

Holding her notebook across her mouth, she bent forward shifting the pile with a long probe. Something glinted in the light, she hooked it and lifted it from the sticky mess. It was a bracelet perhaps gold, certainly heavy.  Maybe we will get a break on this one, she thought as she handed the item over,

‘Jack, bag this and get it cleaned – see if we can identify where it has come from, it looks expensive. Straight away please.’

Jack London’s black evidence gloves were in stark contrast to the red staining on the gold piece,

‘Yes Ma’am, do you want a lift back to the station?’

She had been on the scene when he arrived and he couldn’t see her car anywhere nearby.

‘No thanks, I think I’ll take a walk and see if anyone saw or heard anything, although I am not expecting miracles, and Jack see if there are any CCTV  or private security camera’s in the area.’

Emily Marple waited while the forensic team started their recovery work. She watched the crowd that had gathered at the gruesome scene, they were like scavengers at a carcass. Could the person responsible for this watching, waiting to see what would happen?  She strolled over to the group, nodding to the crowd control officers as she passed under the crime scene tape.

Emily approached the big, red-headed man who was talking to anyone who would listen, he seemed full of his ideas of what had happened. Taking out her warrant card she addressed him directly,

‘Excuse me sir, Detective Inspector Emily Marple, would you like to share your information?’

Stopping mid-sentence he looked her up and down taking, noting the tailored suit and shoes, the hair, the makeup, the whole package,

‘Of course you are me Darling, and I’m Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard.’

He laughed loudly at his own joke, looking around the crowd for approval, there were some embarrassed laughs. For the millionth plus time Emily cursed silently, she’d heard all the Christie jokes before. Smiling sweetly, but with eyes as cold as steel, she said softly,

‘Well now, that’s a new one, would you like to continue this conversation back at the station Sir?’ and motioning to the young Constable, she took the man’s arm.

‘Eh now, there’s no need for that, I wus just having a bit of fun like. What do you wan to know?’

Letting go his arm, she spoke to the crowd, in general,

‘Who called the police?’

‘I did, I called 999. I was on my way home from work. I saw the mess.  I thought the dogs had been at the butchers’ bin and then I realised it was a person.’ The lad wore stained jeans, ‘I lost me dinner over there.’ pointing to the crime site, he looked pale and shaky.

Emily spoke sympathetically, she understood how he felt ‘the Constable will take you to the station to get a statement and take your DNA so we can eliminate you from our inquiries. Is that OK?’

He nodded.

‘Does anyone else have anything to add? No. Alright then, none of you is to leave until the officers have your names and addresses and we will contact you later for statements. Is that understood?’  Nodding they stood watching her.

Emily handed the young man over to the Constable, ‘take this young man to the station and get photos of the group,’ she added.

Making her way back to the forensic team, she could see Jasvinder Singh’s red turban bobbing in the midst of the forensic group. She was glad he was heading up the Crime Scene team, he had a unique way of interpreting the scene, and they had worked a number of cases together she was comfortable working with him.

‘Hi Emily, I heard you had caught this one, it’s messy I’m not going to have much for you, for a day or so.’

‘Jaz, the first 48 hours are critical. Do what you can, and keep me in the loop.’

‘You know it’s been a long time since these alleys have seen a murder like this, now it is all gentrified.’

Emily laughed, everyone knew Jaz’s passion for the history of these old streets and alleys around White Chapel and Limehouse.

‘Why Jaz, do you think we have another Ripper around?’ Never did she imagine she would come to regret those words in the days to come.

TO BE CONTINUED

I SPEAK FOR MY FATHER ~ A DAUGHTER’S JOURNEY

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I SPEAK FOR MY FATHER

Part 1:  The Beginning

Ayn Rand states that altruism should never be confused with goodness, kindness, to others or respect for others and that the absolute of altruism is self-sacrifice.

This is the truth every caregiver knows. Dementia is a word that evokes fear, and sends us scurrying away from a fate we do not wish to acknowledge. We conjure visions of dribbling, incontinent, blank face beings who have been robbed of their basic independence.

What is dementia? There are over 283 identified neurological diseases of which dementia is a component.  The World Health Organisation defines dementia as;

‘..a syndrome—usually of a chronic or progressive nature —in which  there is deterioration  of cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected for normal aging. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning, capacity, language and judgement.

It is a terminal disease, there is no vaccine, no cure and somewhere in the world every four seconds someone is diagnosed with a dementia based illness.

Sacks speaks reverently of the premise that ‘…we must deepen the case history to a narrative or a tale…the patient’s essential being is very relevant.’ Unfortunately, the majority of medical practitioners do not appear to have a clear grasp of this concept.  This was particularly evident at the first meeting with my father and his treating General Practitioner of 25 years. We were summarily dismissed with a display of patriarchal indifference, and a patronising pat on the head. The advice — this was to be expected as one ages. Wrong. Dementia based diseases are not solely a disease of the elderly. There are recorded cases as young as two years of age, for example, associated with Batten’s Disease.

Dr Alzheimer’s first patient was only 51 and patients with Lewy Body Disease have been diagnosed in their 40’s.

As medical science has evolved and diagnostic techniques are refined, patients in their 20’s and 30’s are now being diagnosed with varying forms of Young Onset Dementia.

We were offered no counselling or referrals, no home help or meals on wheels; nothing to make life easier, no physiotherapy or ongoing assessments. My father was having hallucinations, these were dismissed and the advice by Doctor X was to ‘get his hearing aids checked,’ no advice was provided when or if my father should continue to drive or cease driving.

We went home and waited, we morphed from one set of symptoms to another. The disease was not static, sometimes ramping up its progress and at other times my father appeared completely normal and this could all happen within the space of a few hours. Life was chaotic and the disease wreaked havoc with our day to day existence.  Doctor X remained immovable in his conviction, that nothing could ameliorate my father’s condition.

Unsure of what to do next, I did what most people do today when faced with an insurmountable problem, I turned to Google and then to social media. I researched, compiling more information, reading medical journal abstracts with the aid of a dictionary, to assist my understanding of the technical jargon. Eventually, I arrived at a point where I was convinced my father was suffering from a neurological disorder known as Lewy Body Dementia or Diffuse Lewy Body.

Armed with a folder of documentation, a liberal helping of determination, a diary of behaviours, and drawing on my experiences in nursing, I made an appointment to see Doctor X.  I imagined a kinship with Don Quixote. I knew I was embarking on a voyage that would take a tilt at the establishment, a prestigious, authoritarian, and elitist windmill.

The appointment did not go well. Doctor X was unwilling to discuss or listen to my theories. In his words I was, ‘an overprotective, neurotic, female, not trained to diagnose disease, and unwilling to accept the onset of the natural aging pattern.’

Doctor X’s behaviour is reflected in Oliver Sack’s work when he speaks of the analogy between science and disease;

‘…therefore serve as a warning, and a parable — of what happens to a science  which eschews the judgemental, the particular, the personal and becomes entirely abstract and computational.

Angry and disappointed, we found another Doctor. Following an appointment with my own Doctor and we had an urgent referral for my father to local geriatrician with an excellent reputation.

Part 2:  Knowing the Disease — what is Lewy Body Disease?

It is the most difficult to diagnose and the second most common of the dementia based neurological illnesses.  First diagnosed by Dr Lewy in 1912,  ‘it was not consistently recognized until 1996, and not listed in the International Classification of Diseases until 2005.’

3 Core Features

  1. Fluctuations in cognitive behaviour. Awareness and concentration will fluctuate widely and without warning. The individual can progress from hypo-alertness to a state of confusion, drowsiness or non-responsiveness. Attention spans will also fluctuate. These periods can last from a period of a few seconds to days.
  2. Slow physical movement, muscle rigidity, myoclonic spasm, tremor and ‘wooden’ face, shuffling and the ‘Lewy lean’.
  3. Hallucinations are a primary indicator and encompass the sensory spectrum they may be tactile, auditory, olfactory, and visual and include taste.

 

Signs of Lewy Body Dementia

  • It is common for Lewy Body patients to experience depression as an understanding of self is maintained.
  • Apathy. Executive functioning making decisions becomes too difficult. There is an increased lack of ability to deal with daily living tasks. Dressing, answering the phone, paying bills, communicating verbally with family. Repeated falls and fainting. (postural hypertension and syncope)
  • Physical movement becomes more difficult and slow, shuffling walk, stiff limbs, or tremors.
  • REM sleep disturbances, including insomnia and acting out dreams—movement, vocalisation and hallucinations, restless leg syndrome. Paranoia and Capgras Syndrome may also be experienced.
  • Fluctuations in autonomic processes. This includes blood pressure, body temperature, urinary difficulties, constipation, and difficulty swallowing,(dysphagia).

Not all Lewy Body patients will present with all of these symptoms at the same time. However, all Lewy Body patients will experience these symptoms throughout the progress of the disease.  From diagnosis the projected life span is five to seven years. The disease progresses differently for each individual.

Dementia based illnesses are not a natural part of the aging process and there is more to dementia than Alzheimer’s.

Part 3:  Living with Lewy Body Disease – Dad and Me

Our journey was over a six-year period.  In retrospect, the disease had been obvious for at least five years prior to diagnosis.  My feelings toward ‘Lewy’ fluctuate as widely as the disease itself.  It drove us to the edge, it threatened relationships, caused physical and financial hardship and taught us that life is not fair. I am grateful to ‘Lewy’ because it allowed me to get to know a wonderful, intelligent and reserved man in a very special way. I became his voice, his advocate, his protector. I was closer than a lover, we had an intimate connection that even death cannot break.

From my diaries:

  • There were nights when I would sit rocking him in my arms, listening to the surf pounding the beach, he would be listening to the surf in a different time and place, hiding from the Japanese snippers on a mud-ball island in the Coral Sea.
  • There were days when he would make a cup of coffee at 10.00am and be like my Dad, and then at 10:30am he could not work out how to drink from a cup.
  • The fun times came when we had to shoo the chooks and ducks out of the bedroom because they were keeping him awake.
  • The bad times were when he thought I was someone sent to kill him and he would strike out to protect himself.
  • The devastatingly sad days when he, with gentleness would introduce himself and ask my name, and say, ‘That’s a lovely name, that’s my daughter’s name’ or ‘who is that lady? I wish she would go. Pat won’t like it if she comes home and finds another woman here.’ That woman was his wife of 68 years.
  • I loved him, fought medical personnel, fed him, washed him, dressed him, and made sure he had his medication.
  • At times we argued as we tried to exist in his world as he could not exist in ours.
  • Home-help and meals on wheels and the hospital bed, the shower adaptions, ramps wheelchairs, all these things turned the house into a de-facto hospital.
  • I was with him day and night when he was in hospital, because the staff had no knowledge of how to deal with his disease.
  • My Mother withdrew, she could not cope with the changes and understand how he could change in the blink of an eye, while always knowing who he was.

When he died part of me died with him. Ayn Rand was correct, altruism is the destruction of self for another. Any caregiver will tell you, it is part of the caregiving experience.

RANEE ~ MELBOURNE ZOO’s FIRST ELEPHANT

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Ranee

RANEE   ~ FIRST ELEPHANT AT MELBOURNE ZOO

The first elephant to arrive in Australia was Ranee she was a gift from the King of Siam and was born around 1877.

She arrived in Australia in Melbourne from Calcutta Zoo on the 5th March, 1883

She died at Melbourne Zoo on 19th December 1903 aged approx. 26 years.

She was an iconic figure in Melbourne Zoos and Melbourne’s History. 

Ranee’s arrival at Melbourne Zoo is somewhat of a mystery.   There are sources that say she was a gift from the King of Siam, that she came from Calcutta Zoo and that she was purchased by Mr Le Souef.   It really is not important how she came to be here. What is important is that she was here, and she was a dearly loved animal who figures in the Zoo’s history and in the memories of the children of Melbourne of her time.

 What do we actually know?

                        Originally when the Royal Melbourne Zoo was opened to the public having been established by the Victorian Acclimatization Society; it soon became evident that entrance fees would need to be charged so that the property could grow.

When the Zoo introduced entrance fees Mr. Le Souef purchased an elephant, and Ranee arrived 5/3/1883 on board the Iron Clipper Ship, Liverpool Class, The Cassiope, 1559 tons from Calcutta.

The trip for this young elephant, she was around 6 years old, must have been horrendous. The trip took many weeks and the ship was becalmed on several occasions and also fought heavy seas with waves threatening to sink the ship. All this time Ranee was tethered by chains to the deck and unable to move. The sailors had called her Lucy and a rough shed had been built on deck, to house her. There is a record of the ship being caught in a storm of the heads and reportedly she wrapped her trunk around the iron stanchions of her house to support herself.

Eventually, the ship docked in Melbourne and Ranee was unloaded. She was held at Sandridge [Port Melbourne] police station, 113 Bay Street. Port Melbourne until they could arrange to have her moved to the Zoo. She was held in the police stables, and there is no record of how the police horses reacted to this event.

How to get Ranee from Port Melbourne to Parkville was proving to be a problem. The traffic of the time consisted primarily of horse-drawn vehicles. Motor vehicles were not introduced into the Colony until 1897 and depending on sources was either the Thomson Steamer or the Ridge – Austin, kerosene driven, horseless carriage.  The first bicycles arrived in the 1860’s and by 1890 the safety bicycle had evolved.

As the traffic of the day, was horse drawn it was felt that due to her size, and the fact that most of the people would never have seen an elephant, the movement of the animal, through the street in daylight hours could cause panic to the people and stampede the horses. Ranee was held at Sandridge until late evening and then walked through the streets of Melbourne to the Zoo late at night.

The exact route is not recorded. The most straight forward and obvious route would have been  leaving the Sandridge Police  in  Bay Street and proceeding to Crockford Street  and along City Road to Clarendon Street  to Spencer Street up Dudley Street to Peel Street  and onto Royal Parade  a distance of approximately 8 kilometers.   The walk would have taken a considerable period of time.  However, the walk to the zoo was without incident and Ranee was well behaved until the gates of the Zoo were reached at which point she bolted.

When she arrived at the Zoo, as no funds had been made available to build quarters for her and she was initially housed in the old stable buildings.

Ranee began her new life at the Zoo and was on view six days a week, Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m.  until 12 midday  and from 2 p.m. till  4.00 p.m. in the charge of her keeper.

The rest day was not necessarily to give the elephant a rest but to encourage paying visitors to the gardens.  An entry fee was payable Monday to Saturday with Sundays providing free entry.  The crowds on Sundays were already reaching unmanageable proportions and the Society’s administrators naturally wished to capitalize financially on the numbers the elephant would draw.

Mr Le Souef was on record on many occasions petitioning the Government to allow the gate charges to be extended to cover the Sunday. This was not only due to the extra revenue that would be gained but because he felt due to the press of numbers in Gardens on the Sundays that it was only a matter of time until a fatal accident occurred.

The Society’s Minute Book of the 19th of March 1883 records that the elephant is gentle and in good health and is to be given the name RANEE.  It was also proposed that she be trained to give rides and would be ready in a fortnight to do so.

Further statements from the Minute Book confirms;

“…The elephant will commence to carry children on Saturday next.  The Howdah is made and looks very well and                 handsome.” 16/4/1883

“…The elephant is a great attraction and the receipts are increasing…” 30/4/1883.

An account presented for payment at this time shows a payment of    £58.00.00 for the Howdah.  As the average wage in Melbourne was £1.00.00 a week in 1883 the cost of the Howdah was equivalent to 58 weeks wages. It was a very expensive item.

Elephant rides were introduced in 1883 and became a popular attraction at the Zoo continuing until 1962 when the rides ceased. In 1894, the Elephant rides and gate receipts contributed £1553.1s.10d. to the Zoo’s income.

The elephant rides began as a straight track, in the elephant paddock [where the Fun Fair resided] but later it became a circular track.

Ranee was the premier attraction at the Zoo and during her 21-year residence she was a great income earner. It is estimated she contributed in excess of   £2,800:00:00, to the Zoo’s income, and she provided up to 5% of the Zoo’s annual income.

The Age, 22 Feb 1890 carried this report

“Ranee, a fine Indian specimen is still quite a juvenile of 18 years of age, has grown 2 feet since its arrival and will               probably grow still more in the six years still wanting for its full development. The patient monster is a great favourite           with children, and earns its own living, besides paying a good bonus to the revenue of the gardens. Its average                   takings for rides round the enclosure are £170 per annum, and its total cost (keeper, wages and food) amounts to               £150. It has a splendid appetite, and eats double the amount of food consumed by the elephant under Mr Bartlett’s c           are at the London Zoo. He estimates the daily provision for a full grown elephant at about 150 lbs., including hay,                 roots, rice, bread and biscuits, but lusty young creature, perhaps on account of plenty of exercise and a fine climate,           consumes daily 2 1/2 cwt hay besides half a bucketful of ship’s biscuits”

The report of her death in the “1904 Annual Report reads as follows;

      The  Council regrets to state that the old Elephant, “Ranee”, died on December 18th, just before the holidays.  The               cause of death as found by the Hon. Vet. Surgeon, Mr. W. T. Kendall, was a very large accumulation of biliary                       calculi, weighing over 100lbs., in the liver, that organ having been almost completely destroyed. The accumulation               must have been going on for years….”

            In his book “Almost Human”, page 132, Mr. Willkie stated, “She died after a week’s illness, at over forty years of                    age…”, however the newspaper account of her arrival allows that she is six years of age at time of her arrival.

Following Ranee’s death her body was presented to the Melbourne Museum, where her skeletal remains were placed on display and the cause of her, by then, uncertain temper was revealed;

 Her great molar teeth should have been about four inches long.  One of them was, but the other grew and grew until          its growth was impeded by the bony structure of her proboscis, and the attrition of each can be plainly seen in her                skeleton. The runaway tooth must have been nine or ten inches long. She would never allow her mouth to be                       touched, and that was the reason why the extraordinary growth was not discovered during her life-time.”  (Almost               Human, p132.)

             This factor combined with her hepatic stones must have caused the animal a great deal of pain. No wonder the gentle placid animal that had arrived in 1883, became difficult to control and of “uncertain temper”. The stories told of Ranee, in the early days, all illustrate her gentleness.  She had apparently great fondness for one of her keepers and would, when he lay on the grass sleeping or resting, stand over him on guard, and use her trunk to whisk the flies from his face. If he was approached at this time she would become agitated and show of signs of anger causing the intruder to retreat.

References

 

Barrett, Charles   Rambles round the Zoo, Whitcombe & Tombs Limited, 1923

Osborne, Mrs. A.R.  Almost Human Reminiscences from the Melbourne Zoo as told by A.A.W. Wilkie Whitcombe & Tombs Limited c.1917

            Argus Newspaper 5/03/1883

The Age Newspaper 5/03/1883

The Age Newspaper 22/02/1890

The Daily Telegraph 5/03/1883

de Courcy Catherine, The Zoo Story,  Penguin Books 1995

PROV, VPRS 2223 Minute Book of the Zoological & Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1857 – 1951   

PROV, VPRS 2228   Register of Deaths of Animals Zoological & Acclimatisation of Victoria 1898 -1957

PROV, VPRS 2230 Ledgers of Zoological & Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1861 -1940

            Uren Nancy. History of Port Melbourne Oxford University Press 1983

Morse, Linda. 2001.  FOTZ Fun Run Presentation

Further assistance provided by

  • Catherine de Courcy
  • Melbourne Zoo Educational Service
  • Police Historical Museum
  • Polly Woodside Historical Museum
  • Cath Pye

 ranee