Maia’s Emotional Path

It is both promising and fascinating to see Maia approaching Bambi, Mara, and Rana lately and how she has chosen to go about the possibility of building relationships. The dynamics between each individual elephant here at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil are complex and those intertwined relationships impact how the herd functions as a whole.

Maia’s bullying toward Guida prior to sanctuary came from a place of insecurity. She didn’t want to be hurt, so she was aggressive in order to protect herself emotionally. Once the two of them  arrived at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, Maia began to open herself up to Guida and take a more submissive approach to friendship. 

When Rana first arrived at sanctuary, she did not know how to socialize within the boundaries of Maia and Guida’s close relationship. Maia and Guida were not necessarily welcoming to Rana because Rana didn’t understand that her approach might not be appropriate. Rana would try to physically step between the two of them and got pushed away by both Maia and Guida a few times. Eventually, the three became friends, but Maia and Guida were so bonded, and Rana was so pushy with her affection, that it took a while for them to find their way. 

After Guida died, Rana built a stronger relationship with Maia by taking Maia’s needs into consideration and ensuring her friend had a support system; she would allow Maia to make the first move if Maia needed comfort and would respond based on what Maia seemed to want at the time. 

Mara had some slight concerns about Maia from the beginning. When she arrived, she might occasionally take a few steps away from Maia, often preferring that there be a bit of physical distance between the two of them, though there was no sign of aggression between the two. Maia may have been giving off a strong energy as a way of masking her insecurities from a new individual, just as she had done years before with Guida. Eventually, their relationship strengthened, but Mara always favored Rana over Maia. 

Since Bambi’s arrival, Maia’s energy has changed considerably. She knew that Bambi was protective of her new friend and did not want to cause a confrontation. Rana, in her position as a uniter, may have given off a subtle energy of hope that Maia would like this new friend of hers. As you know, healing is not linear and every elephant at the sanctuary is always at a different place in her journey. 

Now that Bambi is beginning to settle, the dynamics between Maia and her may be subtly changing. Since Rana’s overriding nature is to welcome and teach, she may feel that it’s time to help open the door to Maia joining their group of three. The four of them seem to be working through their complicated feelings toward each other, and is it encouraging to see Maia become a little braver by coming closer to them. It’s also nice to see that Bambi doesn’t feel as much of a need to jump to Mara’s defense when Maia walks close. Changes occur over time, but this evolution of theirs is a lesson in relationship dynamics.


  1. REPLY
    Bobi StaySee says

    Beautiful imagery. Thank you so much for taking the time to paint this behavioral portrait.

  2. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    She gets cuter every day! Love her fuzzy head and cheeky grin!

  3. REPLY
    Susan says

    I am so grateful to be able to learn and observe these complicated relationships. It is amazing to me still, the amount of emotional, physical, and growth our Lovely Ladies go through, and that it is constantly changing. Missing Guida and Ramba and imagine sometimes what it might be like if they were both still here. I know they are watching over you. Love and hugs, ❤️🐘❤️

  4. REPLY
    Julie says

    It truly is a lesson we can all learn. Never count out a potential sister! This is a very hopeful message, and I’m very happy their evolution is happening before the arrival of more sisters.

  5. REPLY
    Wim Diepeveen says

    Courage Maia may the road of friendship be kind to you.

  6. REPLY
    Barb says

    Pretty amazing dynamics! Hard to keep up 😮 ). Bottom line is still the joyous life all the girls have at ESB.

  7. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Hope you are ready, Maia ❤️

  8. REPLY
    Patricia says

    All you girls are amazing smart, complex, deep, and adorable. What an incredible blessing it is to know you, through the eyes of your wonderful sanctuary hoomans. I am honored to have this joy and privilege. Kisses to everybody.

  9. REPLY
    Carey says

    Wonderful news, and yes, I see the complexities 😅

  10. REPLY
    Anita J says

    They are VERY complicated relationships! It must be very difficult for you guys to see and to know when you need to step in and when you need to stay way away and let them be. It is great that you have built those enclosures in such ingenious ways that you can close the doors and enclose the girls if need arises. Either keep them isolated for a bit or let them mingle. It looks like they are OK together one week , but it may change over night and they need time out…like kids or students in a classroom…..fascinating read..:-)) BUT everything was thought of and planned for different events..:-)

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. All relationships are complicated at times. Getting in the habit of watching, listening, and acknowledging can be healthy for all of us in our own lives.

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