Today marks seven years since Maia first crossed the threshold from her transport crate and onto sanctuary soil. It’s difficult to fathom that it’s been so many years since Maia and Guida came to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil together. Maia has seen so much change and has lived with great happiness and immense grief at the loss of Guida, something that she’s still working to process each day.
As many of us know, when you lose someone who occupied such a significant space in your heart, they will never be replaced. There will never be another Guida for Maia. Their relationship is still one of the most beautiful displays of friendship we have ever seen with elephants. But, it is heartwarming to see Maia allowing herself to form bonds with elephants again and seemingly healing enough to decide she is ready to allow someone to partially fill the space that was left empty years ago.
Since her time with Guida, we have seen Maia gradually grow in incredible ways, expanding her comfort zone and welcoming new individuals into her life. After Bambi’s arrival, Maia seemed a little bit intimidated by Bambi’s energy and became less comfortable with trying to become part of that group. She preferred to stay on the outskirts of gatherings, only slowly showing a desire to be part of something larger than herself. What we see now is an elephant who has opened up to the others and is finding her way back to the more joyous version of Maia. She seems to be navigating the complex dynamics of the elephant personalities that she lives with in healthy ways. She also still enjoys moments or days to herself and has no problem taking the time she needs, which these days seems like it’s coming from a place of self-assuredness rather than withdrawal.
Some of Maia’s growth can be witnessed in the fact that she’s become a helpful auntie to Guillermina over the last year. It’s possible that she learned lessons from Bambi on how to live with elephants who have big energies, so she’s taking that knowledge and sharing it with Guille. Whatever the reason, we see a more undaunted Maia these days – one who is willing to guide Guillermina while also keeping a sense of play.
A new Maia is emerging and it’s beautiful to see. Her relationships with the other girls continue to grow and expand, and she’s living her life on her own terms. She now sees elephants who she once shunned as peers and even friends. And she’s certainly been a gift to Guillermina, in both recreational activities and relaxing moments. Happy re-birthday, Maia. You’re a symbol of what sanctuary can be and an example of how making your own choices can change every element of your life.
Photo of Maia