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Group Dynamics: Our Ever-Evolving Journey

Maia continues to share space with Mara, Rana, and Bambi during the day. She spends time in various areas of Yard 4, but isn’t going close to them most days.

In previous posts, we have detailed some of their earlier encounters. There was yet another day that Maia decided to come close to the three, but the results were similar to what we’d already seen: shortly after her arrival, Maia decided it was time to go and left the area quickly. The gates between Yards 4 and 5 were open and she could have left, but instead she stayed in Yard 4, near the square, facing the direction of the other ladies. Later on, Mara and Bambi headed through the open gate, into Yard 5, while Rana remained in Yard 4. Since we know Maia and Rana have a good relationship with each other, we closed the gates and allowed them some time together.

When we came back for night feed, Mara and Bambi returned to the barn. Upon Mara being let into the chute to eat, Bambi started with her deep calling rumbles, presumably to Rana. Once Mara and Bambi were set with food, we went to the back of the yards to see if Rana was close. She came walking up to the square, so we opened up, allowing her to join Mara and Bambi for the rest of the night.

In an attempt to try something different that might make the girls more comfortable, we decided to see if shared time in the smaller yards, with a fence between them, would help Maia to feel more secure. This would allow Maia to come close, touch, and socialize, as she has done in the past, knowing there is the safety of a fence if she became nervous. In typical elephant fashion, the girls were in different places at different times. Maia would be near the barn and the others were farther away, or the others were around, and Maia would be on the other side of the habitat when they came close. Just before dinner, all four did end up near the barn together.

Maia was in Yard 2, and the three were in Yard 1. Bambi was close to the gate, eating hay, and Maia walked up and ate some bananas about 20 yards from her. They both ate calmly, with Maia looking like she was going to leave at one point, but then choosing to finish her food. When she was done, she started to walk away at a normal pace, towards the back of the yard. When she was a little distance away, she picked up her pace, and quickly left the area.

Interestingly, Lady was also nearby when everyone was close. When she saw Maia run away, she decided to run off as well (she was in Yard 3 by herself at the time). She didn’t go very far, but did move much more quickly than normal. The condition of her feet generally makes her much more of a mosey kind of girl.

Why Maia isn’t settled being near Bambi is somewhat of a mystery at this point. Although we probably won’t ever know, we will continue to give the girls opportunities to improve on their comfort and their relationships. Since Maia and Rana have a strong bond, we plan to let them have some one-on-one time while Mara and Bambi stay together in a neighboring yard. Similar to what we did with Bambi and Rana, this time will allow Maia some close elephant time, which is a positive. Hopefully, this will increase Maia’s comfort when near all three again, knowing Rana is there for her if needed. We will look for an opportunity to facilitate this when everyone is in a good space physically and emotionally.

Photo of Maia in Yard 4, enjoying a watermelon snack.

Comments(15)

  1. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Juggling butter! These girls are keeping you on your toes 😉. I remember adding a third horse to my pasture once. That’s when I learned that 2 + 1 isn’t necessarily 3! And you’ve got more on the way!!! 2021 will be hopping with new developments and alliances all during 2021 ❤️🐘❤️

  2. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Oh Maia.. Bambi is all good, just a little too excited..
    Maybe spending time with Rana, our Ambassador , will give her some answers and assurance.. Wise Rana knows it all ❤️

  3. REPLY
    Julie says

    I am not there or an elephant expert, but my guess is Bambi just “walks to beat of her own drum,” and it takes a while for other elephants to figure her out and be comfortable around her uniqueness. I love the Ellie-drama at the ESB. Life is beautiful!

  4. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    I suppose the dynamics will continue to evolve as more residents arrive. So happy they can retire there.

  5. REPLY
    Wim says

    Quite a checkpoint issue to keep in the right lane. Would be exciting to know what the girls think of their situation. 🙏🐘

  6. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    Your keen observations and descriptive way of telling us about these girls behavior toward each other really gives us a wonderful view of what is going on with these girls. Really appreciate these updates, and look forward to seeing them pop up on my emails!!!

  7. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    THANK YOU !

  8. REPLY
    Sunny says

    I take this opportunity to congratulate all women who make this sanctuary possible: you are extraordinary.

    • REPLY
      sara says

      Thank you! While we are grateful for every single person who helps us – in any way – here at sanctuary, International Women’s Day is an excellent chance to celebrate all of the women around the world who inspire us to keep going.

  9. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH DEAR❤️🐘 MAIA AND LIL❤️🐘 LADY, SEEM TO BE THE “SOLITARY GALS” AT SANCTUARY! SAD FOR MAIA TO BECOME SO ALONE! I THINK ITS MORE ABOUT HER LOSS OF DEAR GUIDA ,PERHAPS AS MAIA AND GUIDA WERE TOGETHER FOR MANY YEARS!! THE LOSS OF GUIDA COULD HAVE AFFECTED MAIA PROFOUNDLY!! PLUS BAMBIS EXTRAVERT FRIENDLYNESS COULD BOTHER MAIA! SHE MAY NOT TRUST BAMBI!! AS FOR SWEET LIL LADY! I THINK HER EMOTIONAL PAIN OF GETTING BEATEN BY ELEPHANTS IN CIRCUS AS WELL AS HUMANS IS STILL PRETTY DEEP IN DISTRUST‼️IM NO VET OR PSYCHOLOGIST BUT KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT HUMAN SUFFERING WHICH LOOKS PARALLEL TO HUMAN SUFFERING SELF PROTECTION❗️I PRAY🙏THESE 2 SOLITARY LADIES WILL FIND A WAY TO RE-GROUP WITH THE RANA,MARA,BAMBI HERD🙏

  10. REPLY
    B says

    Could you post more pic of Bambi you talk about the other girls more often than you do about Bambi and you show a lot less pictures of Bambi in fact hardly any and if she is in the picture she’s in the background or behind another elephant where you can barely see her.
    When are the new Elephants due to arrive?

    • REPLY
      sara says

      We try to post about all of our girls, but if you haven’t heard much from Bambi lately that’s because she is just having a great, everyday life at sanctuary. You’ll see and hear more from her soon. There currently is no firm date for the arrival of Pocha and Guillermina, as that will be determined by when their training is in a solid place and they are able to begin quarantine. But it is coming soon!

  11. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    It certainly is a hard job trying to merge a number of elephants who have no connection with each other and had never had the ties of family upbringing.

    You are all doing a wonderful job and making the best of a bad situation and I am sure that you are bringing happiness and confidence to these lovely creatures who deserve all the help that we humans can give them.

    • REPLY
      sara says

      Thank you. We don’t think the situation is necessarily “bad” – it is just part of the elephants figuring things out. We appreciate your care for them.

  12. REPLY
    Carey says

    Yes Kelejan, the care team at ESB have to be super alert to ‘evolving herd dynamics’ amongst relative strangers

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