While Maia spent a few days past the creek in Yard 5, Bambi spent a few days across the creek in Yard 4. Bambi’s time there seemed to have slowed her down a bit, at least in terms of food. We don’t know if it’s a temporary shift or if she is becoming more grounded in general.
While much of Bambi’s past is unknown, we know that most zoos feed an elephant their last meal during the late afternoon. They generally don’t get another meal again until morning, since keeper staff are usually 9-5. As an animal who eats for at least 16 hours a day, going 15 or more hours without food can take a toll physically and mentally. All of our elephants here have survived significant trauma throughout their lives – it’s an unfortunate part of being a captive elephant. What makes each one so different is how they cope and respond. Elephants respond differently based somewhat on personality, and there’s no way to predict. For Bambi, she seems to have left the zoo life with some food issues. Like with any animal (human or nonhuman) who has dealt with the issue of food insecurity, Bambi becomes a little overeager around food.
It seems that standing in a green pasture, surrounded by more food than she can eat, has helped her realize that it’s going to be okay. She sometimes still approaches her food and starts to eat very rapidly, but then she pauses for a moment. She will look around, see her other piles of food, and mellow out a bit. It is starting to click in her brain that she can essentially always have food because it is growing everywhere.
She still loves her supplemental meals and her hay, and likely always will. We don’t see her as the type to ever miss a meal. Bambi, like Maia, isn’t the type to wait too long for meals either. If they hear someone driving at mealtime, they start looking for you. It causes delays in feeding at times since they will end up behind us, going to each place we check a minute after us and, therefore, harder to find. Maia won’t quite catch up with us, but she usually gives us a few minutes to find her before she starts looking for us. Not only is Bambi much faster than Maia, but she seems to start looking for us as soon as she hears the four-wheeler. For breakfast, Shirlei (one of the caregivers) will usually check a few spots for Bambi, and if Bambi is in none of those spots, Shirlei will just sit outside the fence with the 4-wheeler engine idling. In no time at all, Bambi will appear, ready for breakfast.
Not all elephants are willing to do that – Guida would seldom come looking for us, no matter how long we searched. She had her grass and wasn’t the type to follow a human around looking for food. She was above that, and it made her easier to find at times. We loved that independence in Guida, and we love this enthusiasm in Bambi. Each of our elephants is perfect just the way they are. ❤️
Photo of Bambi.
December 2, 2020