Maia and Rana Work On Dynamics

A few days ago, Maia and Rana were sharing close space and Rana walked over to Maia;  Maia did what you see here: rested her trunk on top of Rana’s head. This is one way that Maia exhibits dominance and it is a sign that she is navigating her way within the group. Rana clearly doesn’t care; Maia is just resting there and appears to be almost sleeping. This interaction only lasted a few minutes. Bambi eventually came close, which caused Maia to walk away.

In the past, Maia has been a more physically dominant personality around the other elephants at sanctuary. She had to learn not to be forward with the others, who were sometimes intimidated by her (though Guida was not). When we use the word “dominance,” it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially in this specific case. If Maia seemed aggressive or was pushing her head down heavily on Rana’s, that would not be considered a positive interaction. But Rana appears content to allow Maia’s behavior – and Maia even lets Rana put her trunk in Maia’s mouth to see if there is anything good in there. The whole interplay is very mild. 

This behavior reflects part of who Maia is. We feel this shows that Maia is opening up again and feeling comfortable showing a bit more of who she is. She has a big presence. When some people hear the word “dominance,” they might be concerned. But, with almost all groups of animals (even humans), there is a dominant personality in the group. Some friends are louder, more boisterous, and more opinionated; others are quieter and just fine with allowing others to make decisions. It was an intriguing moment to view and one that may be telling of how the relationships among Maia, Rana, Bambi, and Mara will evolve. 


  1. REPLY
    John says

    Thank you for this most informative and interesting post! Do you think Maia could “get away” (for lack of a better term) with this gesture with the other girls?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      probably not. Mara is submissive to Maia still, so not sure she would be comfortable with it. i don’t think Bambi would really be fond of anyone doing this to her. she’s still learning a lot about elephant communication and ‘manners’.

  2. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    That was a cute moment, even seems affectionate ❤️❤️

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      It was an honest moment between two elephants who’ve known each other for a long time. And a big step for Maia!

  3. REPLY
    Tammy says

    So interesting to see these interactions in real time, things we would never be able to witness before Sanctuary life so thank you so much! Sending lots of love to all those beautiful amazing ladies that teach us all the time 😙🐘🙏🐘 💞🐘

  4. REPLY
    Carol says

    So interesting…

  5. REPLY
    Barb says

    Excellent explanation and glad we had a chance to witness the interaction.

  6. REPLY
    Susan says

    Amazing. I seem to remember seeing some of this type of behavior between Maia and Guida, and/or maybe it was back when Rana first came to sanctuary and she was figuring out her relationship with Maia and Guida. Seeing Maia making physical contact with Rana brought me back to Maia before we lost Guida. It has been so interesting watching Maia navigate her way among this developing herd. I can only imagine what is going on in their minds! I hope she continues making strides in her relationship with the other girls if it what she wants. I love that her interaction is with our dear Rana, who has known Maia the longest, and that their bond continues to grow. Thank you for this insightful moment!! Love and hugs ❤️🐘❤️

  7. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Such a peaceful video! Love these girls!

  8. REPLY
    Julie says

    This just breaks my heart….in a good way! Oh Maia, I’m happy you’re back!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      She’s on her way!

  9. REPLY
    Carey says

    It’s all very beautiful to see Maia coming out of her aloneness post Guida’s death. It’s humbling when you think that they have never, prior to GSE, been able to choose who they share space with let alone be friends with, no long intimate learning from their family herds in negotiating relationships. Well done to all concerned and I look forward to watching developments!

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