Watching some of the Facebook memories that have popped up this week, of Rana at the hotel, and how many times Scott used the word ‘perfect’ when talking about her, I should have seen the writing on the wall: She had a piece of his heart from day one. That isn’t unusual, but she was determined to occupy much more space than that.
When Rana arrived, she didn’t seem to grasp the depth of emotional aspects of elephants. She wasn’t completely closed off, as some elephants can be; she was open and willing to let others in, but what she was offering was not like anything we’d seen before – it was all very superficial. Scott and I had numerous conversations about her because her behavior didn’t seem to be a typical response we sometimes see to being alone for so many decades. It almost seemed like a naivety or aloofness to things, but not necessarily as an obvious defense mechanism. We are very aware that elephants aren’t truly who they are when they arrive, and that discovery is part of sanctuary, but who she was felt conflicting from the onset.
Rana being pushed to the outskirts of Maia and Guida’s relationship began an introspection in Rana that initiated a significant shift in who she is now. We discussed it being hard for supporters to watch in the moment, but that there is more to being a herd member than spending time with other elephants, and this was a lesson it seemed she had to learn. And, as we all know now, it’s a lesson that will forever be in the core of her being. Whatever she went through emotionally was transformational in a way that only she understands.
Putting the needs of others before her own, stepping back and giving space or supporting another herd member emotionally or physically when needed – Rana is the sister of all sisters. She seems to sense when someone is in need and tries her best to be whatever that is. We joke with her that even though she may be in her 70s, she has to live forever, for the benefit of all of those who come after her. She really is ‘perfect.’
So on this day, we celebrate the metamorphosis that Rana has gone through since her arrival at sanctuary. Although the lessons aren’t always easy in the moment, the results are profound. And we say it often: we, both the elephants and the humans, are beyond lucky to have her here with us. Happy Re-birthday Rana. May you have many, many, many more.
Video of Rana enjoying some of her favorite snacks