The girls continue to do well as they adjust to their new life. Maia is proving to be our sensitive one: big, beautiful and allowing herself to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is something she will need in order to truly heal from a lifetime that was everything but nice to her, but being open emotionally in such a way, generally goes hand in hand with feeling hurt at times.
At this moment it is nothing significant. Guida is starting to exhibit her desire for dominance and Maia is allowing it 100%. When they are fed Maia will sometimes walk over at the end to see if Guida has anything left and Guida will squish her out of the way. The other day Guida gave her a little head nudge as well and Maia walked away, seeming a little emotionally wounded. Mind you, Maia has been overtly aggressive with Guida in the past, but for them, that was like a different lifetime.
We have seen this kind of relationship before, the smaller, thinner, older, or what would be considered more frail (we definitely wouldn’t call Guida or the other elephants we know frail) elephant being dominant over a bigger girl. Some people know some of these relationships: Misty with Lota, Tarra with Shirley… but most people saw these relationships later on when the bigger girls had already developed a thick skin about it. They saw what seemed to be a ‘game’ where the pushing, biting and other retaliation was many times encouraged and enjoyed. But those relationships didn’t start out that way. In the beginning, the big girls always took offense and were slightly emotionally hurt by the reaction they received.
What we are sharing now is the beginning of how Maia and Guida’s relationship will develop. These girls have been together for decades, but never allowed to actually be together and form a real relationship. They have a lot to figure out. Sometimes it can actually be harder for elephants who have been together to start out in a healthy place than those who are completely new to each other.
That being said, Maia and Guida obviously adore each other and are doing incredibly well. They still embrace, talk and search for each other’s companionship throughout the day and night. We are simply trying to share some of the nuances with you that allow for a deeper look into who the girls really are. That emotional depth is what defines them as elephants.
The sensitivity we are seeing in Maia is tremendously positive for all she has been through, it’s beautiful to see. But as she works through decades of abuse, neglect and her own actions, it may cause her some emotional pain. This is all part of her figuring out who she is and owning her emotions and behaviors. Part of our job is to make sure she is supported through all of this. But for all we can do for her, Guida will be the one that provides her the most comfort when she struggles.
Healing isn’t always easy, but the being that emerges through the process is amazing. With every elephant we have worked with in sanctuary, the growth has been profound. We are glad to see that Maia seems open to all of it, but what truly brings us comfort is that she will have strong little Guida by her side through it all.