While Lady hasn’t shown tremendous confidence with other elephants yet, she has become more comfortable wandering and exploring her natural environment. We took this as a sign that she was ready for more space.
The sanctuary is built with flexibility in mind. It was designed to meet the needs of every elephant. The elephants of our past have shown us that healing journeys are very different, which makes for various requirements. Fences were constructed in such a way that elephants can be shifted through and spend time in the yards without them having to share a common space. This allows us to let Lady explore vast parts of the sanctuary on her own, so she can feel safe while doing so.
With the other lovely ladies in Yards 2,3, and 4, Lady was given access to Yard 5 for the first time yesterday afternoon. She still had access to Yard 1 and the barn, in case she needed to return to a ‘safe’ and familiar space.
Just like with everything else, Lady needs to do things at her own pace, as she is comfortable. She wasn’t pushed to explore; but, once the gate was opened, she almost immediately went into the Yard 5. She stayed close to Yard 1 initially, but her explorations led her across the creek and to the backside of Yard 5. This area is one of Maia’s favorite spots, where she has been spending a lot of time recently. For context, Rana has only crossed the creek in Yard 5 a few times, and, to our knowledge, Ramba has not crossed it there at all yet.
While there is no denying Lady’s feet are in bad shape, her wandering demonstrates that her pain and discomfort isn’t limiting her desire or interest in venturing out into the world. She is mindful of her steps when she goes up and down hills, but she isn’t letting the condition of her feet dictate how far she walks, or where she goes.
When we checked on her at 10 pm last night, Lady was still peacefully grazing out in Yard 5. This morning, still in Yard 5, she ate in the shade of one of Maia’s favorite trees next to the stream and collection pond that Maia and Guida used to enjoy.
Lady’s comfort level shows a courage that we hope helps her build up her overall confidence with other elephants. But, even if it doesn’t translate that way, right now, she is one smiley elephant.
December 16, 2019