If Maia perceives breakfast may potentially be late, she walks to the barn to investigate. It’s one of her more endearing qualities – and now that we have the cameras, we can confirm that she shows up minutes before the humans on the days she checks on breakfast. Bambi doesn’t usually walk to the barn when she perceives it is mealtime but calls and rumbles from wherever she is instead. She’s not the type to wait around – or to stand still. We joke about Maia having two speeds, but Bambi may only have one.
One recent morning, Bambi showed up at the square around breakfast time and found Maia already “waiting.” They were in different yards but were touching through the fence. They both seemed very mellow, and their interactions positive.
When elephants who don’t share space interact along a fence, we try not to disturb them, but we also knew that they were interested in breakfast. It was a bit of a conundrum as we couldn’t feed them exactly where they were and keep their food separate. Maia can be a little bit possessive of her food at times, and we can’t trust Bambi would notice.
Kat decided to bring them further down the fence so they could remain close, but not close enough to ‘share’ food. We know Bambi likes a specific wooded area in Yard 5 directly across from one of Yard 4’s pastures. It’s an area where Kat could feed them where they would have plenty of distance to eat separately, but would each know the other was nearby. If they wanted to socialize through the fence when they finished eating, they could easily do so.
With Bambi in Yard 5 and Maia in Yard 4, Kat decided to lead them from Yard 4. As a protected contact facility, we keep the four-wheelers a distance in front of the girls, which means Kat would have to drive significantly faster on Bambi’s side of the fence. To go quickly enough to stay in front of Bambi, she would have left Maia far behind. While Maia is fast, she is not Bambi fast.
While a fence separated them, they both did well walking “together.” Maia seemed relaxed and like her usual self, with no signs of food intensity. As we have mentioned before, Bambi can be a bit all over the place – even when she walks, she doesn’t always walk linearly. Maia didn’t seem to mind as she walked near Bambi.
Once Kat arrived at the location she had in mind, she fed Maia on her side first, while Bambi waited patiently on the other side. Then Kat went through a four-wheeler gate, an opening of the fence large enough for a four-wheeler but too small for an elephant. Once she was on the other side, Kat fed Bambi in one of her favorite spots. It’s a spot the other elephants don’t usually hang out in, but Bambi seems to enjoy. When Kat left, both elephants were happily eating at a distance. We don’t know if, or for how long, they hung out after breakfast. Regardless, it’s nice to know they had the opportunity to socialize and the ability to choose if they wanted to.
Photo of Maia.
November 7, 2020