Brave Lady is sharing space with Rana this morning!! We have briefly opened a gate between them several times, and Lady will stand there and watch. Today, Lady walked through the gate for the first time and is sharing space with Rana!! We are so proud of her!! (Rana is the closer elephant, and Lady is further away, in the bushes.
(Note: The following video and post had been scheduled for today, but as you saw in the live feed above, Lady and Rana ended up in the same yard together, but we still want to give you a glimpse as to the steps that led up to this.)
We’ve continued having Rana come into the barn, and after a few minutes, treating her in the chute while Lady is in an adjacent stall. Lady is starting to see this as ‘normal’ now and remains relaxed through the process.
Every day, once Rana is in the chute, Lady gets as close as she can to the chute to watch Rana’s morning treatment. After Rana leaves the chute and goes into Yard 1, we’ve been closing the gate between the 1st patio and the habitat and opening up the recently vacated stall to Lady. As soon as we open the gate, Lady immediately enters the stall and patio, smelling where Rana stood and what she touched.
Two days ago, when Lady was on the patio of Stall 1, Rana walked over to her. Lady left the patio and backed into the stall. However, after taking her moment to process, Lady stepped back onto the patio. Rana turned around and put her backside to Lady close to the gate.
Backing up in such a manner (presenting your rear) is generally a submissive gesture. It appeared to be Rana’s way of saying, “I’m right here if you want, but I am going to make myself less scary.” Rana’s backside was close enough that Lady could’ve reached out and touched her (she didn’t).
Even though Lady still has clear boundaries, we are observing that Rana is very aware and respectful of them.
Trusting Rana’s respect and the softness we saw in both girls yesterday morning, we took it a step further and left the Stall 1 chute gate open after Rana went into the yard. Rana went under her shade tree, backside towards the barn, to enjoy some palms and a bit of hay. Once she seemed settled, we opened up Stall 1 for Lady to see what she thought and what she wanted to do.
It is extremely obvious when a gate is open, and Lady seemed very aware of this. When we opened up Stall 1 to Lady, she still immediately entered Stall 1 and went out on the patio – even with the gate open.
She walked to the open gate between the patio and the yard – and gazed at Rana for the first time without a fence between them. Lady stopped there and remained very calm. Rana sleepily continued eating her hay in the middle of the yard.
Lady stood there for about ten minutes, no stress of anxiety showing. However, she didn’t quite seem convinced that she could go into the yard and hang out with Rana. This, of course, is not a problem, everything on her own time, and as she feels comfortable. We gave her some treats and calm verbal praise a couple of times to reinforce her being brave.
Since Lady was backing up into the stall to exit through 2, we decided to open up the gate next to the barn between Yards 1 & 2 to see if Lady wanted to go out that way. After about 10 seconds of contemplation, she stepped out of the barn at her normal pace. Once out of the barn, she stood for a moment, looking towards Rana, then walked through the gate into the 2nd yard. There was no hurried walking or concern, she even stayed within a step of the gate. This, of course, got her more praise and treats. The best part of it all, Lady kept a soft, sweet face from beginning to end.
It’s always important to leave things on a positive note when you can, and we felt like Lady taking those few steps into the yard was enough excitement for her for the day. Once Lady was in Yard 2, we closed the gate between Yards 1 & 2, separating her from Rana once more. Full of smiles and all sorts of cuteness, we dropped some hay and watermelon for the girls. (Don’t worry – we stopped by the pond and left a chunk of watermelon on the side of the pond for Maia to enjoy when she was ready to come out and have a snack ☺️☺️).
Rana & Lady seem to enjoy their new routine and spent yesterday like previous days, grazing, wandering a bit, and watching each other.
Just because this happened once doesn’t mean we will do it again tomorrow. As always, the elephants are the ones who determine how everything goes. It is their moods and emotional space that dictates what occurs – both of them need to be in the appropriate mind space for a gate to open like this. Every day will be different. We are so excited that it happened once, but we will need to see how everything plays out before we try it again. It’s a step, but not a new routine (yet).
February 21, 2020
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