This week, Bambi and Maia seemed to interact a bit more, though not really directly. They seemed to be performing what Shirlei described as a “dance” around each other. While keeping an eye on one another, they moved in a circle from the training wall, to an area near the mud wallow, to the Yard 4 gate, then to the trail near the pond.
As Maia was standing near the Yard 4 training wall, Bambi was eating some hay nearby. Maia gently eased closer, so Bambi moved a little nearer to the pond, but never walked far away. The energy was calm and relaxed. Maia slowly decided to edge a little closer to Bambi, who then walked toward the trail to the pond – but still stayed close and kept grazing. Bambi eventually decided to move back to her original spot, while Maia walked into the shade and kept grazing. The two of them stayed for a while in this configuration – obviously watching one another, but without any sense of worry or a desire to keep a lot of distance between them. Because the other elephants were not around, it seemed that perhaps the two of them were taking time to feel one another out.
There has also been a slight shift in energy between Bambi and Mara in the last few days. While they clearly care about one another, Mara spent so much time in early days at sanctuary working on her physical health, which meant that her relationship-building skills aren’t always the best. Even now, she continues to learn how to be a better friend and needs to improve upon her giving to others, rather than taking.
Recently, Mara squeaked in a way that would normally cause Bambi to run to her side; Bambi heard, but stayed where she was. As much as we appreciate seeing relationships form at sanctuary, it is always best for the herd when they are healthy and based on a sound foundation. Mara has never really had to face repercussions from the other elephants for exhibiting needy, demanding, or pushy behaviors, and not giving as much attention or care to her friends in return. It is possible that Bambi is, in her own way, attempting to hold Mara accountable on occasions, letting her know that it might be time to start taking others more into consideration.
As of now, Bambi and Mara are spending time together again but still don’t seem to be 100% back to ‘normal’. Perhaps Bambi just needed to take a breather. Still, spending a bit of time away from the larger group and near Maia is yet another positive sign of growth for both Bambi and Maia.
In this video, you can see Bambi calmly snacking and Maia in the background, inching ever closer. Scott gives them both encouragement.