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Lady and Mateus Learn From One Another

Lady is an elephant that keeps everyone on their toes. It’s something we adore about her. She will look at us with her crooked smile, and one particular expression in her eyes, and we know she is feeling spunky, spry, and things have the possibility of becoming interesting. When she’s in a mood, you never know what will happen, but she does give you fair warning. 

Some days, her spunk manifests itself in her turning her foot soaks into a bath, ignoring us entirely to splash and play in her medicinal soaks. Other days, she will lean into the bars at a speed unexpected for Lady; no aggression, but lots of energy. Occasionally, she will hit her head into the bars, at the end of a treatment session. It’s almost like she realizes she was a “perfect princess” the whole time and wants to reinforce that she is the boss and doesn’t need to participate. It’s not the same aggressive behavior we saw when she first arrived, but it is still a way she feels she can make a statement. One recent morning, she had that smile and gave us that look, and we were curious what the day would hold. It is a face that makes us laugh every time, although it may mean we have our hands full. Mateus, one of our newer caregivers, was supposed to begin working with Lady’s daily treatment. Working with any animal, especially elephants, teaches you to be flexible. We let Mateus know that it might not be a good day for him to start with Lady and had him stay close as we began her treatment.

True to her style of always keeping us guessing, Lady was absolutely perfect that day. Mateus worked hands-on with Lady – he held her nose, gave her treats, and applied cream to the old abscess on her face that we continue to treat. In some ways, Lady is a difficult elephant to learn to work with and, in other ways, she is easier. Some Asian elephants tend to hide their emotions, or they will watch for patterns and bait someone. Other Asian elephants – like Rana – will act very sweet and then do something inappropriate, seemingly out of the blue.  Lady is very clear in her communications. As long as you watch her closely, you can see her behavior shift, letting you know what she is feeling. Despite being easier to read, Lady is still complex to care for, because she isn’t very trusting, especially of men.  It makes introducing her to a male caregiver nuanced, but we are pleased to see how it is progressing with Mateus.

Anyone can toss a flake of hay to an elephant, but that isn’t what makes you a caregiver. Being a caregiver for elephants encompasses all aspects of their wellness. It is also about individualizing every interaction with each elephant, not just how you treat them, but  how you speak to them or approach them. It’s a lengthy learning process that requires patience on all fronts. The elephants need to learn a new person, too, and decide to trust a new human in their space. Although we love our personal relationships with Lady, it is nice to watch her open up to a new human.It speaks volumes to her growth and recovery here at sanctuary.   

 

Photo of Lady

Comments(15)

  1. REPLY
    Ellen Bollinger says

    Mateus sounds like a wonderful addition. I am sure he will learn from the best

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      We are lucky to have him.

  2. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    I so love hearing about our Lady!!! Wonderful post!

  3. REPLY
    Nanette says

    Loved reading this and all you write.

  4. REPLY
    Tracy says

    What do you suppose her look in this picture says? Can you take a guess? Just curious.
    Thanks so much for every thing you do!!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      That is just her content and relaxed face, probably eating a snack. 😉

  5. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Just like a little kid always something also happy to hear Tamy will be ok until he gets to the Sanctuary

  6. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    VERY VERY GREAT STORY OF MZ ❤️??LADY’S. BEHAVIORS AND CAREGIVING EVENTS‼️ SHE CERTAINLY LOVES HER FOOT SOAKS AND CARE WITH SHOWER BENFIT! PEHAPS SHE THINKS SPRAYING THIS MEDICAL FOOT WATER ON HER BODY WILL HELP HER ACHING BACK FEEL BETTER? ITS GREAT CAREGIVERS CAN SEE WHEN LADY? IS NOT IN THE MOOD AND WHEN SHES ENJOYING HUMAN TALK AND COMFORT! SHES BEEN THRU MUCH ABUSE IN HER DEAR LIFE! I PRAY ?MATEUS MAKES AWESOME BREAKTHRU WITH HER IN TRUST AND RELAXATION! BEING A VET IM SURE HE HAS SOME TECHNIQUES LADY CAN ENJOY AND LEARN! I PRAY ?DEAR ?LADY WILL SUCCUMB TO HER FEARS AND JOIN WITH ?RANA WHO CAN ASSURE HER SHE NEEDS NO WORRY AND FEAR?

  7. REPLY
    Beji says

    Just curious and don’t mean to be invasive. Do the girls know the difference between the pheromones from human males and Females? Do they know when its that time of the month for female humans . Do the girls still have the hormones and a period every month? Sorry to be graphic,but I have to think it all plays a role. But what the heck do I know???

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We believe that they are aware of hormonal changes in humans, but we don’t know the degree to which they can determine male vs. female. We don’t monitor their menstruation, so we cannot speak to that.

  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    Surely Lady will smile she must be happy having another servant added to her kingdom. ??❤️

  9. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    One day Lady may become good friends with one of the girls there too. I’m hoping. Probably Rana.

  10. REPLY
    John says

    Such an interesting elephant. I enjoy reading your analysis of her behaviors and moods.

  11. REPLY
    Patricia says

    Lady is brilliant in every way. They are all so complex and so very, very smart. I am in awe of them, and also Mateus and the veterans of elephant care at ESB. You are all blessings to my world.

  12. REPLY
    Carey says

    I’m guessing that firmness and independence of Lady must have got her some beatings in her past, very happy to hear about her growing trust and confidence in Matteus.

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