As we mentioned, Lady has been exploring more of Yard 5, which seems to have boosted her confidence and improved her mental and physical health. Her feet look a bit better since she’s been walking more, as it has been increasing her circulation and blood flow. Though she moves around a lot in the closer yards, she gets much more activity in the larger ones. While she has spent plenty of time in the larger yards in the past, Lady has mostly stayed in Yards 1, 2, and 3 lately.
On a recent morning, Lady was in Yard 5, looking quite content. Scott fed her breakfast and noticed that she was glancing over at Yard 4. He knew that opening the gate into that yard wasn’t feasible, since Bambi was there and Lady is still not sure about Bambi. But she obviously had a bit of wanderlust that day.
About halfway through the day, Scott had Lady walk over to the Yard 5 water trough to ensure she had a good drink, bath, and her foot treatment. On the way back, Lady would periodically stop to graze and look over at the creek. This happened several times. In that area, the creekbed is fairly steep and Maia is the only elephant who we know that crosses it at that spot. Scott told Lady, “That is not a Lady trail; that is a Maia trail.” Maia treats the path into the creek there almost like an amusement park ride, basically sliding down into the water. It is possible for Lady to go down steep inclines, but going down is harder on her front feet than coming back up.
At dinnertime, Lady’s caregivers couldn’t find her where she had last been spotted. To no one’s surprise, she had indeed crossed the creek, just at a different area. We eventually found her on the north side of the creek in Yard 5. It’s a wild and gorgeous piece of land, with a very different atmosphere than other parts of the sanctuary. You feel completely surrounded by nature there, more than in any other place in that habitat. It’s an area that Lady loves and she was obviously very content in that moment.
Lady has never been afraid of exploration. After her first week at sanctuary, we opened up Yard 5 and she went directly across the creek without hesitation. When she sees a space where she is comfortable going, she has no concern about heading that way. It’s a wonderful example of how emotional healing can impact physical healing, even if, in Lady’s case, her physical healing will never be complete. On that particular day, she knew what she wanted and refused to let physical limitations hold her back.