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Changes in Behavior and our Growing Herd

Due to her past, Bambi arrived at the sanctuary as a very insecure elephant. Her early interactions with Maia and her temporary rejection by Mara didn’t boost her confidence. We’ve seen that behavior shift in the last few weeks.

She still adores Mara and follows her anywhere (and everywhere). She is beginning to feel out her relationship with Rana a little. It’s not that they are fighting for dominance – they are both submissive elephants. It seems like they are trying to figure out where each falls within the hierarchy of their tiny herd. Their boundaries are shifting and becoming firmer. For example, Bambi will decide Rana can’t “share” her hay, which she will communicate clearly to Rana primarily by facial expressions. We will also sometimes see Bambi quickly turn her head and square off her body. Rana doesn’t respond to the posturing. In addition to being somewhat submissive, Rana is incredibly laid back. It takes a lot to phase her.

This behavior is very normal. Maia and Guida did this same thing intermittently for about six months before settling into their positioning. Mara and Rana also did this except, unlike Maia and Guida, Rana just didn’t seem to care. Mara isn’t as docile as Rana, but it never escalated. Mara has pushed and nudged Rana, and Rana ignored it. After Rana repeatedly didn’t respond to Mara, Mara reverted to being more passive again.

It’s all very subtle – if you didn’t know what to look for, you likely wouldn’t see it. This working out of power dynamics happens with most elephant introductions – even ones that go as well as theirs did. Things are more likely to escalate in smaller spaces, such as zoos and circuses. The area here is large enough that the elephants can figure out their places passively; an elephant can walk away, and resources aren’t limited. While we provide a limited amount of hay, our habitat offers unlimited grazing. Additionally, if you get annoyed with your “roommates,” you can go graze out of sight for a few hours. There are multiple water sources for drinking and playing. These aren’t options in most zoos due to the small space, which creates real (or perceived) competition for resources.

Rana and Bambi have only had a few quiet, low-key exchanges that they quickly move past. It’s more like siblings disagreeing than an actual conflict.

With our upcoming new arrivals, everything will shift again. While we still don’t have a date for Pocha and Guillermina, they should be arriving in the next two months. With their arrival, submissive elephants like Rana will still step up slightly in status with the elephants she already has a relationship with. A new elephant arriving is another shared experience for her and each other elephant. It will also shift Bambi’s place because she won’t be the “new girl” anymore. She’s been here for almost six months now, which is incredible to realize.

Each new elephant changes everything, which creates so many opportunities for incredible growth for everyone.

Photo of Bambi

Comments(12)

  1. REPLY
    Carol says

    Plus adding the element of mother/daughter relationship with the newbies, she be an interesting variable!!!💗💗💗💗💗

  2. REPLY
    Bill says

    Sounds like a new kid in school. Lots of testing the water.

  3. REPLY
    Renee' Killian-Zeiger says

    Okay, the part that says, “if you get annoyed with your “roommates”….”. I literally laughed out loud!!!!! 🤣😂🤣😂🤣. So true, eh! To all the wordsmiths of these blogs, you all rock!!!!! I know I’m not the first to say, I can hardly wait for your daily blogs. God bless you all and the current ele girls and the wonderful girls and boys to come…Asian and African! ❤️

  4. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    I’ve been wondering about the introduction of the mother/daughter team, especially since they have been alone together forever. It’s going to be very interesting to watch this all unfold. How exciting! ❤️🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘❤️

  5. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    The changes and individual growth, as well as evolving as a herd is fascinating, It is going to be so interesting when the new kids on the block arrive!🐘♥️

  6. REPLY
    bo says

    —>Additionally, if you get annoyed with your “roommates,” you can go graze out of sight for a few hours. There are multiple water sources for drinking and playing.<—
    haha, this made me chuckle 🙂
    this is for a lot of humans not even possible so am very very happy the elephants at the sanctuary over there can and have this freedom, AT LAST, thank you animal loving people there at the sanctuary!

  7. REPLY
    CincyJeff says

    Will Maison, Bambi’s former zoomate, be joining the herd at some later time?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      At this point, we don’t know. The zoo was more open immediately following our departure with Bambi, but isn’t so much anymore. But that doesn’t mean we’ll give up on her.

  8. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    BAMBI❤️🐘! IS SO LOVELY IT WILL BE EXCITING TO SEE HOW EXUBERANTLY SHE WELCOMES POCHA 🐘AND 🐘GUILLERMINA❗️ IM SURE THE BIG CHILD PUPPY PLAY WILL SHOW UP😃MAYBE BAMBI WILL BE DESIRING A FRIENDSHIP WITH GUILLERMINA BECAUSE SHES ONLY 22! YES AND SWEET MATRIARCH RANA 🐘WILL BE NOTICED AS SHE WELCOMES POCHA AND HER GIRL. THESE DAYS WILL BE EXCITING! I WONDER HOW MAIA AND LADY THE TWO LONERS WILL REACT? INTERESTING DAYS ARE COMING SOON!!😍👍👍

  9. REPLY
    Wim says

    They have space and place at their side. Must be wonderful to watch the ladylike movements of the girls from Brasil. 🙏🐘

  10. REPLY
    John says

    I know I repeat myself often but….. such fascinating and amazing creatures. Thank you!

  11. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Just love all these subtle changes and how to teach us what to look for.

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