An Excellent Step for Mara

Maia Rana and Mara

In the mornings, for treatment, we usually do Maia first. The elephants all know that treatment time means treats, so if Mara and Rana have their treatment before Maia, she tends to pop up by them looking for her share. Once we finish with Maia, we generally leave her with a small pile of goodies and some hay. It keeps her busy enough that she doesn’t come by during Rana and Mara’s treatment, or at least she won’t show up until near the end.

One recent morning, when we were about halfway through Maia’s treatment, Rana and Mara appeared. While Maia has shown up during their treatment, this is the first time the other two have appeared during Maia’s treatment. Rana was in the lead, but Mara was close behind her.

Rana stood about twenty feet away from Maia and watched. After a few moments, Rana apparently decided her trunk was too heavy because she walked over to the fence and rested her nose on it. She slowly meandered closer and closer to Maia by taking a few steps, stopping to rest her trunk and then repeating several times. Eventually, Rana ended up almost face to face with Maia.

Some elephants can be a little food possessive, or even a bit possessive of “their” time with the humans. Maia has such an easy nature that she didn’t seem to mind that Rana was in her space. Regardless of Maia’s feelings, it’s safer to work with only one elephant at a time, so we enticed Rana to walk away with some hay. Once Rana was further away, Mara decided that the best place for her to be was directly between Maia and Rana.

While Mara is growing more comfortable with Maia, she still likes to use Rana as a buffer. Standing between the two of them is a little out of character for Mara. Once she was between them, Mara slowly backed up toward Maia, a half step at a time. Ultimately, Mara’s rear was pretty much at Maia’s face. Maia smelled and touched Mara’s backside. At that point, we were just applying (non-toxic) bug spray to Maia, so we let the three of them be for a few minutes before beginning treatment for the other two. It is an excellent step for Mara. Not only did she not have to go between Maia and Rana, but there was nothing in it for her. She didn’t go between them to access food or water; it seemed she went there simply to have a purely social interaction.

Photo of dinner another day (left to right) – Mara, Rana, & Maia in the distance.

September 10, 2020

Maia, Rana, and Mara

left to right: Maia, Mara, and Rana


  1. REPLY
    Alejandra(Sandy)Enquin says

    Mara de mi corazon siempre te amo y me pareces tan buena y compañera! ,tus gestos tan sociables me conmueven ,tu desinteresado acercamiento a Maia es hermoso.besos preciosa

  2. REPLY
    arie says

    Today it is Mara who steals my heart, sweet, gentle, Mara, tiptoeing slowly towards Maia.
    Brave girl, darling Mara ?❤️

  3. REPLY
    Heidi says

    Our dog does this to encourage our other dog to play with her. We call it the “butt maneuver.” Funny thinking of elephants doing the same thing!

  4. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    I would love to have a video of Mara inching her way up the fence. I never tire of these girls antics. I just makes me smile with happiness every little progress they make toward socializing. with each other.

  5. REPLY
    Julie says

    Beautiful moments at GES! Is the pic of the three the moments you’re talking about? By the way, the top pic with the clouds took my breath away it’s so beautiful. It looks a little like Africa with some Asian elephants. Hehe ❤️?

  6. REPLY
    Paula says

    Es genial el cambio de actitud de Mara hacia Maia! Pobre Mara, tenía muchas cosas que procesar dentro suyo..
    Estoy muy feliz por Maia, finalmente ella esta siendo aceptada por Mara y parece que pasan mucho tiempo juntas las tres.
    Maia tiene una nueva amiga, hermoso!❤

  7. REPLY
    Patricia says

    These little narratives are so well done! I can just see Rana moving and resting her trunk on the fence. These stories make my day. Love you all very much.

  8. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    I love reading about what the girls get up to and how they progress. Mara has settled into sanctuary life so well gradually feeling more at ease with Maia. Mara feels accepted as part of the herd. It will be very interesting to see how their relationships evolve when Bambi arrives. Can’t wait to bring her home!

  9. REPLY
    Wim says

    Looks a bit like altering chimpanzee politics Into Elephants proportions. How Intelligent they interact to each other and still show so much respect. Eye-opener for many humans.

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.