It’s part of what we love about her. So when she didn’t feel like cooperating for footwork the other day, it didn’t come as a tremendous shock. She came over for it, but when we would ask for her foot, she wouldn’t fully put it up. It was obvious she had no real desire to participate, so we ended the session and the girls started to head out and explore.
When Maia and Guida leave, they usually stop at the water trough. We joint them, sometimes bathe them, and say good-bye. This time Guida did something very out of character for her, she put down her head, leaned it all of the way into the fence and let out a rumble. It seemed Guida needed some reassurance that even though she didn’t do what was asked, that everything was still ok.
Once I laid hands on her she let out a trumpet and continued to be very affectionate and sweet. The moment was significant for her in that it’s the first time she has allowed that sort of obvious vulnerability towards humans. We can touch all over her and she will come over and rumble, but rarely does she elicit affection, really lean into it and never has she let us know she wanted and needed to feel comforted that way.
For those ‘strong’ elephants, this can be hard, so it’s very encouraging that she allowed herself to be vulnerable and celebrated the moment a bit. It also speaks volumes about her past. Even though she was labeled as the ‘good girl’ her response shows that when she wasn’t perfect, even she wasn’t treated well.
We’re glad to see her continue to open up. The journey of healing all elephants will go through at sanctuary goes on for many years. Each step is a blessing.