Health Update on Mara


We want to do a little health update on Mara, but there isn’t much to say. Her appetite continues to be intermittent. Some days, she will eat absolutely everything, and other days, she is much more selective in her diet. Even on her selective days, she is still eating.

We don’t have a diagnosis at this point. We have done multiple tests, and none of the results paint a clear picture of the cause. If Mara were a reasonably-sized animal, we would follow those tests up with MRIs, ultrasounds, ECGs, and other diagnostic tests. Unfortunately, those machines don’t work on elephants due to their massive size. Limited diagnostics make it frequently impossible to know what the problem is with elephants.

Some days her selective eating includes 4-5 types of produce at a specific meal. Mara is learning to be a little spoiled and manipulates her care team members by pretending not to like certain fruits some days to receive additional amounts of a more exciting fruit. Once the person walks away and stops giving her the preferred food, Mara will start eating the other food she took and set aside. It is only an issue because Rana is often waiting nearby for Mara’s scraps. Sometimes, she will eat the food Mara set aside for later before Mara gets to it. We encourage them to separate at meals, but that isn’t always possible in the habitat. As you can imagine, Rana is gaining some weight, although, the other day, it was Mara who walked over to eat Rana’s grain. We are offering Mara meals every couple of hours to encourage GI movement and reduce any stomach acid build-up. We deliver her meals to her, as always, to minimize the interruption to her day.

She frequently doesn’t seem interested in hay, which, along with grass, should make up the bulk of her diet. Fortunately, it is now the rainy season. Hidden Pasture is already turning green, but it isn’t her favorite grass. The grass that grows there is a cultivated grass from when this land was cattle pasture. The other grass will be long enough to graze upon soon, which hopefully will shift things for her, as the elephants generally find the spring grass to be delectable. Our primary focus is to make sure she continues to eat enough each day to keep her weight up and keep this issue from progressing into something else. We are giving her supplements and medication for GI issues to address her symptoms while searching for a possible cause.

We understand that you have many questions, but we don’t have nearly as many answers. We are letting you know what we know, and we try to be open and transparent, which is why we are sharing this information. We will update you when and if things change – for better or for worse. If we learn anything, we will share it.

Photo of Mara, with Rana in the background.


  1. REPLY
    Barb says

    Thank you for sharing what you do know about Mara. We can be hopeful for her good health. She is in the best of care of that we do know.

    • REPLY
      Alejandra(Sandy)Enquin says

      Mara de mi corazon sanate???❤te amamos mucho,me encanta tu inteligencia y picardia con la comida y como te miman !!!despues de haber soportado una vida de abusos humanos.Y con Rana son dos amores que se comen lo que deja la otra,buenas amigas,pero Rana esta engordando y vos no,espero te mejores ya,gordita.

    • REPLY
      Lynne Russert says

      Oh no Mara. Be a big girl & eat all your veggies & other food to stay strong & healthy. Love you & your sisters so much!!!??

  2. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Thank you for trusting us with this information. We know you are doing the best you can, and that the first thing is to no harm. Bless you all for what you are doing for these wonderful girls who have had such a hard life and now in their later years are getting so much more care and love.

    • REPLY
      FRANCINE FORD says

      Sending Mara healing Reiki energy. Thank you so much for your heartfelt honesty & transparency. Mara is in good hands, this we all know.

  3. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Appreciate you taking the time to update us on Mara’s status. Prayers and healthy vibes sent her way…

  4. REPLY
    Nishant Bhajaria says

    I am sending happy thoughts and praying for a quick recovery and resumption of appetite!

  5. REPLY
    Kathleen Ryan says

    Thank You For taking such good Care of the Elephants. I am praying For Mara’s complete healing.

  6. REPLY
    Sunny says

    I say it now and I said it before: she is a Maranipulator. Beside the jokes, I hope she is fine. Greetings from Argentina.

    • REPLY
      Tammy says

      Nobody has a machine large enough to do testing on other massive animals in captivity well then we must figure something out is it even possible to have one made i know it would be really expensive but im sure everyone would love to chip in to get one for the girls it would be such a useful piece of equipment just a thought……???

  7. REPLY
    Carol says

    Thanks so much for the detailed update! We will pray for her good health and attribute any eating issues on her age. ???

  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    Very complicated story I feel sorry for Mara. People who experience IBS symptoms know how difficult a balanced menu can be. Sincerely hope it’s not something completely different and dangerous.???

  9. REPLY
    Barb C says

    Thanks for taking the time to update us on beautiful Mara I will keep her in my ?? to heal ?????

  10. REPLY
    Alana says

    Sending her & you all my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    • REPLY
      Beji says

      This must be very difficult for the staff. I can only imagine how much you all care for these magnificent ladies. My prayers for EVERYONE are on the way!

  11. REPLY
    Vicky says

    I giggled thinking about trying to put an elephant in a MRI machine. 🙂 Thank you for all of the information about Mara-I am sending positive vibes for her. And sending so much love to all of the elephants & humans at sanctuary.

  12. REPLY
    Nancy Hughes says

    Can you test her dung for occult blood? Do elephants need worming?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      we did, it was negative and we do regular fecal checks on all of the girls for parasites and treat if needed.

  13. REPLY
    Andrew Pearson says

    It is sad about Mara. We know you are doing the best you can. It is quite normal when animals get into middle age they have good days and bad days just like us as humans do as we age. I pray the Mara will overcome her difficulties and that she will have many good days ahead. It is a wonderful in rescuing her from being a slave to man and giving people rides when we know this is not good for Elephants feet and bodies. You are all doing a amazing work with the Elephants and you are all Warriors in my eyes and other people.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Thank you. Unfortunately, Mara is not middle-aged, she is 55, which is geriatric for an elephant. The median age for captive elephants is mid to late 30s. But we do hope she has many more wonderful years here.

  14. REPLY
    Irene says

    ?, thank you for sharing this! ♥️

  15. REPLY
    Sallie says

    Thank you for the update. Adjustment and Seasonal change is not easy for our beloved Mara. She seems to be “picky”, but that’s OK. She will find her way with your help. When the other grasses finally grow, she will perk up. Hoping all goes well soon . . .

  16. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    I am concerned for Mara as it does sound that she is not her usual self. I know elephants can suffer from bloat which can kill and I understand how difficult it must be to find out what is wrong with these giants. Hopefully, this will pass once the new grasses come through and she begins to graze on what she prefers. She began to appear “off” just after the fire as she became intolerant of Bambi.
    I know she is in the best hands and I thank you for keeping us informed. I hope and pray she will be her old self very soon.
    Sending love from the UK. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  17. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    That sweet face! Love Mara! Thank you for always sharing their well being.

  18. REPLY
    Mr Phillip says

    many thanks to you guys for looking after her and sharing the storry.

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