In this video you can see (from left to right) Maia, Bambi, Mara, Guillermina, and Rana. They are spending time together at the mud wallow after breakfast and medical evaluations. Everything was calm for a while until Guille decided she wanted to interact with Rana in a forward way. Guillermina begins using her tushes to poke Rana, which gives her a little push.
Bambi immediately rumbles and heads toward Rana before stopping to make sure Mara is okay. Guillermina chooses to leave the area and begins to walk farther into the habitat, looking for leftover breakfast hay. Bambi and Mara gather around Rana and the three vocalize for quite some time. All the while, Maia stays off to the side and watches the situation unfold.
It’s important to note that as soon as Bambi began making noises, Guille moved away. In the past, it’s possible that Guillermina would have stayed longer and continued to push Rana’s buttons or get corrected by Bambi before moving on. Though the interaction might seem a little dramatic, it may signal some growth on Guille’s part for moving away so quickly. Between her youthful exuberance and being raised in such substantial confinement where she was allowed to be physically dominant over her mother, that old way of functioning sometimes gets the best of her. But small steps, like Guillermina stepping away quickly, are important as she continues to become part of the sanctuary herd.
We are sharing this video because we believe it’s important to see what Guillermina’s behavior looks like and understand a behavior that every elephant sanctuary has experienced. Elephants have the ability to truly harm each other, but that’s not what these actions represent. Anyone at any wild animal sanctuary will tell you how difficult introductions and socialization can be and how it can take time, but it’s something that often isn’t shared publicly. Organizations have been made to feel like anything that isn’t viewed as overly positive is terrible and a fake portrait of true sanctuary can sometimes be painted. What Guille does here is minimal compared to how she acted with Pocha who, while she did her best to raise Guille in hard circumstances, allowed Guille to be dominant in a physical way long before she came to sanctuary. Because of our transparency and our view on how important education is, we want to share both the good and bad and in between. And although this behavior isn’t the most positive thing, for Guille it is part of her evolution and a significant improvement over how she was when she arrived. Of course, she still has growing to do, but this isn’t something we see from her often. It’s a little remnant of her past life that will eventually fade to nothing.