In our recent updates on Pocha and Guilliermina, we’ve received quite a few questions about whether the two are returning to the barn after their explorations in the yards. We wanted to take the opportunity to not only answer the question, but examine the idea that elephants have “safe spaces” where they often return.
When Pocha and Guillermina arrived at the sanctuary, they quickly found comfort within the elephant care barn. As we’ve seen their behaviors evolve over the last few weeks, it seems that in moments of overwhelm or simply just tiredness, they return to the barn to re-charge and find their comfort.
Recently, we caught a moment of Rana joining Pocha and Guillermina during some of their downtime in the barn. The three met outside with some excitement, but Pocha and Guillermina seemed to need a break and retreated into the barn after some touching. Eventually, Rana came inside and the two girls seemed to go from “Hey, what are you doing here?!” to “Oh, you’re in here too…” They were no longer particularly excited, although they didn’t dismiss Rana in any way. Guillermina surprisingly seemed to be more interested in Rana’s presence. The mother and daughter duo eventually exited the barn and down to the mud wallow, where Rana joined them as well.
The three of them sharing space in the barn together was quite a big step and Rana seemed like the perfect choice to encourage them to push their boundaries. Her more passive nature allowed for Pocha and Guillermina to remain comfortable in the space where they feel safest and most comfortable, while still engaging in something new. Lady also tends to show us similar behavior with her comfort in Yard 5; it’s the place where she seems to return to when things get to be a bit “too much” or when she needs a break. This behavior is somewhat normal in captive elephants and allows for the elephants to exhibit some autonomy in their choices by letting us know what space works for them and when.