Guillermina brings a lot of charm and energy to the sanctuary. Because she never had a “normal” childhood, she is spending much of her time here being a big and boisterous kid. The other elephants find her engaging, but they are also getting used to being around a younger elephant who has a lot of life lessons to learn. Guille’s energy is fun and the others seem intrigued by it. At times, they work to teach her a little bit about what it’s like to live with other elephants; in turn, she’s showing them what life is like with a particularly charismatic and fascinating individual with lots of youthful exuberance, but not always the appropriate level of respect for her elders.
Now that Guillermina has been at sanctuary for a couple of months, she is learning more and more about what is right and what is wrong, as far as living with other elephants is concerned. There are some things she simply never learned. For years, Guille has made her own decisions about how to behave and pushed her mom around at times, often inappropriately. Pocha didn’t necessarily appreciate her daughter’s conduct, but she had nothing else to offer Guillermina – so she gave Guille a lot of leeway when she would act out. Many times, Pocha would sacrifice her comfort to appease her daughter’s demands.
When Guillermina gets assertive with the others, it’s generally when food is involved. She will occasionally try to nudge or push and sometimes hit another elephant if she’s interested in what they are eating; this doesn’t always go over well with the older girls. Depending on their mood, each will respond differently. Currently, Rana and Mara aren’t engaging during these moments; they’re often intimidated by her outbursts and choose to be more passive in their responses to Guille. Maia generally opts not to feed into any over-the-top energy; she doesn’t let Guille get the best of her, while influencing Guille to slow down. Bambi tends to stand her ground more than the others, with varying degrees of success. Regardless of their individual responses, each elephant has something they are teaching Guillermina. She just may not be catching on to every nuance just yet. Time will also be a great teacher for Guille when it comes to reining in her energy.
Even though Guille can have aggressive energy at times, the others don’t go out of their way to avoid her. In fact, they are often fascinated. There are many times when they will choose to spend time with her, or at least not walk away when she comes near. This is all part of an ever-evolving dynamic of Guillermina learning what it means to be an elephant that is respectful, acknowledging that there are lessons to be learned in the world. The established girls also have some things to learn and manage – specifically what it is like to be around childlike energy and that patience can be involved when dealing with a young elephant. As one might expect, sometimes they are more patient than others. When Guillermina seems more relaxed, they are comfortable being close to her; when she has a harder edge, they are more resistant to her behavior. Respect is a big concept to understand. Our growing group of elephants are all on a journey toward mutual respect and a life together.
When stepping back, it is actually quite remarkable to see how well each individual adapts, teaches and learns, given that all, with the exception of Guille, were taken from their families at infancy – many living a solitary life for decades before coming to the sanctuary. Yet their wisdom shines through, as they tap into their ancestral nature and let instinct lead the way through their ever-evolving recovery and reconnection to who they are and what it means to be an elephant.
Photo of Guillermina and Maia walking together