In the morning, Mateus was working with Rana at the treatment barn, while Mara, Bambi, and Maia were nearby in one of the yards by the barn; it was a warm day so they were all super sleepy. Guille was in a neighboring yard because she was not sleepy and had lots of energy. After Rana was finished with her treatments and walked out into the yard, we opened up the gate for Guillermina to come through to where the other elephants were hanging out – and this got the whole crowd very excited.
Maia’s energy went way up and she began to make faces and use body language that suggested she was going to vocalize. Sometimes when elephants are about to make a noise, they do a little head wiggle and scrunch up their faces. Maia was doing this, getting really silly and playful, but she stopped herself just before it seemed she was going to make a noise. The other elephants continued to express their excitement, but Maia seemed to calm down after that. She went back into her sleepy phase and wandered over to eat the hay that the others left on the ground when they gathered together in a hurry.
Though Maia didn’t quite get to the point where she vocalized, it was encouraging to see her find that playful side. She and Guida were constantly making silly noises and expressing their joy – but Maia hasn’t found it within herself to get back to that place emotionally since Guida’s death. We are hopeful that Maia continues on this path; even having these small moments is beneficial, because it shows her trying to open up and let herself be vulnerable around the other elephants. Even if she’s not ready to go to that emotional place again, it’s lovely to see her inching in that direction.
To learn more about Maia, her story, and how she’s continued to grow over time, visit our website here: https://globalelephants.org/maia/
Photo of Maia