Lady & Rana spent most of yesterday on opposite sides of the fence, watching one another. When they do this, they move around and graze, but are always aware of where the other is and what they are doing, while almost seeming to ignore each other. (Maia doesn’t have the patience for that, so she has been spending her days pond hopping.)
Yesterday, after Lady watched Rana’s morning treatment, they went out into neighboring yards to eat hay on opposite sides of the fence. Then they both went to their respective shade trees where they dozed, watched, and grazed. It rained in the afternoon, which brings out the silliness and a lighter side to everyone – and eliminates the need for shade trees. So, once it started raining, they went back to watching each other through the fence. Rana went into the mud wallow to play and nap. Meanwhile, Lady stood next to the fence and spent a couple of hours watching Rana nap. Frequently when an elephant with a significant history of stereotyping (such as Lady) stands and does ‘nothing’, they tend to start swaying or engaging in stereotypical behavior. The behavior has become so habitual that it’s their go-to when they are void of stimulation, as well as when they are anxious. It is noteworthy that Lady spent two hours close to the fence, watching Rana without swaying at all. It makes it very clear that she wasn’t waiting for or expecting anything but instead was fully mentally engaged by the act of Rana napping. That shows us that she is processing and thinking, which is a huge step for her becoming more comfortable around the others.
When we went out to feed dinner at night, Rana and Lady were still nearby (close to the treatment square that connects all of the yards). We fed Rana slightly back into the woods, and while doing so, Lady walked over as if to make sure that she got fed as well. So we fed her close to Rana once again. A bit later, when we checked in, Lady walked up to the fence, looking very brave. Rana took two steps in Lady’s direction and Lady decided a submissive butt presentation was a better way to go. Rana, being ever sensitive to Lady’s emotions, took that as a sign to stay where she was and allow Lady to settle again. When we left them for the evening, they were still close, at new piles of hay, delicately picking up small mouthfuls while passively watching each other.
Elephants tend to be more relaxed and mellow at night, so we are hoping that their socialization spills over into the evening. It’s an excellent time for Lady to feel safe, everyone to be calmer, and them to make continued strides. Lady seems intrigued and fascinated by everything the others do. Even though they are all senior elephants, watching Lady observe the others is like watching a small child be around “big kids.” It’s something she should have been able to do over forty years ago when she was still young, but, as they say, better late than never. We are grateful that she finally has the opportunity to watch and learn in a safe environment with the space to process. It’s something that many captive elephants never get.
We try to talk about our impact (and the impact of your donations) periodically. The reality is that every post we make, every story we tell, & every elephant who is given the gift of the sanctuary is because of you. Thank you for being the reason behind Lady’s ability to grow and heal.
Photo – Lady & Rana at dinner last night. Lady has the palm on her back and Rana is facing the camera with her ears out.
February 18, 2020
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