Maia is a Sensitive Soul

When something emotional occurs at the sanctuary, it gives each of us a new perspective on the individual elephants and how they process deep feelings. Though some may view Lady as our most sensitive resident because she is highly attuned to what’s going on around her, Maia is actually the elephant who appears to feel things the most deeply. She processes what’s around her with an intensity that we don’t see in the others. If she’s frustrated, there is no mistaking it; if she’s enjoying herself, that also shines through. 

When Guida passed, the level of deep sadness that Maia displayed was powerful. The loss was so significant for her that there was no disguising it. After Ramba died, she seemed to understand that what happened with Guida was not unique to one individual, that other elephants can pass away. She was there for Rana in the best way she knew how to be, but her strong feelings and her distancing herself from the cause of those feelings, was still evident throughout the grieving process. 

This is why when Pocha passed we were most worried that, after Guillermina, Maia might have the most difficult time processing what was happening. When Guille called for her friends after Pocha’s death, Maia was the last of the four to come – though she was ultimately supportive of her friend. We assumed correctly that Guille would turn to Maia for comfort because she seems to gravitate towards Maia in a different way than she does the others. Though we were concerned that the experience could be more than Maia might want to handle, she has stepped up and been there for her friend. We do see Maia leave and take time for herself occasionally, but we also see her staying side by side with Guille for hours. It likely helps that there are three other elephants helping Guillermina process the situation, so the need for comfort doesn’t fall solely on Maia. That allows Maia the space to work through her emotions and come back again to Guille. We will never know the depths of Maia’s understanding of loss. However, she is teaching us (and perhaps the other elephants) that one’s capacity for empathy can grow in ways you might never expect.

Photo of Maia and her fuzzy head


  1. REPLY
    Sherry says

    This poor eyephant hurts!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      She feels all of her emotions in a big way.

  2. REPLY
    Kayle Luthey says

    Who writes these posts? They are heartwarming, heartfelt and so beautiful – AND VERY MUCH APPRECIATED.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. My name is Sara and I write many of the posts, with plenty of guidance from Kat and Scott, of course. I appreciate your kind words.

  3. REPLY
    Carol says

    Such complex emotional depth. I wish they could verbalize…don’t you??? And thank you, Maia, for being YOU!🥰🥰🥰💐

  4. REPLY
    Patricia says

    God bless you, Maia! I love you so much, and I love your punk hairdo! All the girls are always on my mind, but, of course, Guille the most these days.

  5. REPLY
    Polly Weber says

    I love how you write such a detailed “emotional diary” for each elephant. I suffered with Pocha’s death even though I saw she wouldn’t be at Sanctuary long. I had hoped for at least 6 months. It hurt when she let go. Your write ups have been personally helpful to dealing with her painful loss.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. It’s healing to write about her as well

  6. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Maia bless her heart has been through so much loss more so than the other girls is it possible she knew more than the others did allowing her the opportunity to open up sooner get closer to those girls consoling them because she could sense they were sick before their passing? I believe animals have that uncanny ability that special gift like dogs do they somehow can detect people who have diseases and illnesses they alert us to before our doctors even can? 🙏🐘💞

  7. REPLY
    Wim says

    Great souls shine inside out. This will certainly renew old grieve to Maia. May she find a new balance.

  8. REPLY
    John says

    This is incredibly touching and beautiful. Such amazing creatures. Thank you for the insight into their world.

  9. REPLY
    Nancy says


  10. REPLY
    Bonnie Jo Ferguson says

    PLEASE!!! will you post a pic or a video of Guille? I am so concerned about her.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      She’s doing okay. It’s sometimes hard to get pictures of specific elephants on demand, but we’ll try!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We posted a short video of her on Facebook and Instagram a couple of days ago if that helps!

  11. REPLY
    Pam says

    Beautifully and heart-fully written, Sara. Your words gently invite us into the lives and experiences of these incredible elephants, deepening our feeling of connection with them and with Sanctuary. Thank you.

  12. REPLY
    Kayle Luthey says

    Sara, did you visit GSE for a month, recently? I remember a post that tugged at my heart about time spent there. Your command of language is truly magnificent.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      I visited Brazil, but only for a week. I did write a post about it. What a beautiful experience for me. One I’ll never forget!

  13. REPLY
    María Elizabeth Alvarez says

    Thank you.

  14. REPLY
    Susy says

    Gracias Sara. Hermosos y sentidos mensajes de las situaciones del Santuario. Me uno al pedido de otro lector con respecto a Guille. La verdad me cuesta mucho aceptar que Pocha ya no está, y al mismo tiempo.e invade la tristeza por las emociones de Guille. Entiendo que es difícil capturar imágenes o videos , porque seguramente hay muchas situaciones en las que ustedes deben trabajar. Igualmente agradezco de corazón cada comentario que hacen. Maia una empatía digna de imitar. Gracias. Gracias

  15. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Sara your writing about these sweet animals are amazing the way you tell it I read that Kate and Scot tell you what’s going on with the girls and you put it in words you are something keep up the good work

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. I’m lucky to get to help share these stories.

  16. REPLY
    Terry says

    Pocha knew these ladies would wrap Guille in their trunks and hearts in ways we are all happy to read about.

  17. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    I’m sure Maia losing Guida was a tremendous loss amd then losing Ramba. Rana was close with grandma Ramba so Maia comforted Rana as well. Now she can comfort young Guille as losing a mother is very hard to deal with. So grateful they all have each other to lean on through their grieving process. I’m still happy Pocha was at sanctuary before she passed away. What a gift to be in paradise on earth.💚

  18. REPLY
    Beji says

    Maia might be my soul elephant…gosh…I hope they all are..

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