While Rana, Mara, and Bambi are inseparable much of the time, they are still individual, independent elephants.
As we’ve mentioned, Mara comes back to the barn most nights for dinner, with Bambi close behind. Rana sometimes stays behind when they make their brisk walk. Bambi can be a high-speed elephant, but when it’s about food, Mara is just as fast. When getting to her meal is the goal, Mara is focused and doesn’t seem to want anyone, even her close friend, to get to the “finish line” first.
The two will spend around an hour eating. Mara still seems to prefer having her dinner in the chute, enjoying her meal in peace. Since her appetite is excellent, she doesn’t need to eat in the chute, but she not-so-subtly asks to do so, and we let her. As soon as they finish their dinner, Mara exits the chute to eat some hay. When there is just one flake left, she grabs it in her trunk and leaves just as quickly as she came, with Bambi once again trailing in her dust.
While Rana loves her food, she doesn’t feel the need to sprint to the barn for dinner these days. She knows that no matter what, she’ll still get her food. When we deliver her meals out in the habitat, we usually find her contentedly cleaning up scraps. As we were putting down her dinner one recent night, she continuously rumbled upon our approach and while eating. Her vocalizations demonstrated that, even though she was alone, she felt just fine where she was.
Besides, Rana seems content with her alone time. She is a secure elephant who knows her friends will be back, and doesn’t feel the same urgency to rush as Bambi and Mara do. That doesn’t mean that their reunion isn’t a reason to party; their vocalizations ensure everyone knows when they have met back up again.
Photo of Rana, enjoying her dinner and a gorgeous sunset
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Raven Black saysMay 17, 2021 at 3:06 pm
I look forward so much to these updates!
Thank you! ?
Susan Flewelling saysMay 17, 2021 at 3:12 pm
as I note the size of these girls, I can’t help but wonder if it is safe for their caregivers to interact with them on an up front level without the fencing or quad between. ( I have never seen an elephant outside photos .)
Sara saysMay 17, 2021 at 4:04 pm
Though you can’t see it in this photo, we are on the other side of the fence, as we are a protected contact facility. Many of the pictures that we post are closely zoomed in, in order to crop out the bars so that you can all see the elephants and not the steel fence.
Lila Nieto saysMay 17, 2021 at 3:24 pm
My sweet lovely Rana
Julie saysMay 17, 2021 at 3:45 pm
That was a satisfying read! Thank you!
Beji saysMay 17, 2021 at 3:54 pm
So Scott is the girls grub-hub driver? Too funny….bon apetit!
JoAnn Merriman-Eaton saysMay 17, 2021 at 4:22 pm
A beautiful, serene photo of Rana with the sunset behind her, lush greenery, and her looking so healthy and content. Just what a true habitat should represent. Thank you for these updates. They are so appreciated.
Sara saysMay 17, 2021 at 4:51 pm
Mara and Bambi have a great relationship, but very different personalities. But it is wonderful to see how their bond has grown.
Bill saysMay 17, 2021 at 5:10 pm
These updates emphasize that the elephants are such individuals. Their personalities emphasize that.
Lori Hoover saysMay 17, 2021 at 5:11 pm
I love this photo of Rana. I can see so much of her personality shining through, in her deep, upfront gaze. She looks especially THERE right there, ya know?
Ellen Bollinger saysMay 17, 2021 at 5:35 pm
A secure elephant…a well fed elephant Friends galore..love this
Susan Flewelling saysMay 17, 2021 at 6:07 pm
Sara, I understand the system you have. I am just curious as to whether one could safely approach the girls without “protection” of fences, etc., as it were.
Kat Blais saysMay 17, 2021 at 6:29 pm
Hi Susan, this is Kat. That’s an impossible question to answer since it depends on the elephant, the human, the day, and lots of other factors- which is why we use a protected contact management system. You just never know when they are going to have an off moment and the price of a life isn’t worth trying to work with them in any other way. Also, with elephants like Lady, we know the barrier and having her own protected space makes her feel safer and like she doesn’t have to be so aware of her own responses if she is quick to anger. So although she hasn’t lashed out in a long time, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t feel differently if there was no fence between us and her. We have seen, with elephants we have worked with in the past, that having that barrier changes their behavior significantly. Sorry I may not be able to provide you with the response you are looking for, but to give you an easy yes wouldn’t be honest.
John saysMay 17, 2021 at 6:16 pm
Perhaps KFC or McDonald’s could open for business there….
Susan Flewelling saysMay 17, 2021 at 7:28 pm
Kat – thanks. You answered my question perfectly. I was just curious as those ladies are so huge i wondered if it were safe to approach them considering how well you all interact with them! I do hope no one took my question as a criticism – I was just curious as I said.
Kat Blais saysMay 17, 2021 at 8:23 pm
nope, no one took it as a criticism, it’s just one of those questions that doesn’t have an easy answer. 🙂
Carey saysMay 17, 2021 at 8:49 pm
After an evening supper no doubt they are looking forward to the night ahead! ?
Maureen saysMay 18, 2021 at 9:19 am
I bear in mind that, in addition to being wild, “the golden girls” have not forgotten whatever trauma they experienced at the hands of human beings. Both factors assure us that their
defense triggers are unknowns, although their devoted and expert caregivers nurture their innate calm. Like all wild creatures, we must love them as we do the stars–from a distance.
Carol in BC, Canada saysMay 19, 2021 at 6:35 am
Kat, your writing is so good; I feel like I’m right there at times, just by what you say and how you say it. I know that a book about your life and experiences with the Elephants would be a fascinating, and satisfying, read. I hope you do write a book one day – I’ll be first in line to buy it!
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