Mara and Bambi’s Encounter

After breakfast this week, Rana and Mara had been in Yard 5, while Guillermina, Maia, and Bambi were in Yard 4. Scott saw them and opened up the gate to Yard 5, so everyone was together. A little while later, all of the elephants were down by the water trough, with Mara several meters away from the others. She headed toward the trough and it was a short time before Bambi noticed her there. 

Bambi turned toward Mara with her ears out. The two were maybe 15 meters apart, and Maia was on the other side of Bambi. Mara was very calm and passive – not the same energy we’re used to seeing between her and Bambi. The girls stood there looking at each other for a while, with Mara staying really still. After a while, Bambi turned and walked to the other side of Maia, toward Guillermina and started eating hay with Guille. Then Maia went over to Mara and the two of them ate hay together by the water trough. Bambi didn’t seem completely comfortable, but part of that can be attributed to her adaptation to losing her vision. 

She’s not adapting to her vision loss in a way that we would have expected. She’s only just beginning to use her other senses to compensate for the loss of her sight. From our observations we don’t think she’s learned to use sound to sense distance, or recognize the subtle differences in some smells. When other elephants are around, it can take her some time to realize who is there. As with any being with a new physical limitation, Bambi will continue to adapt and adjust, thankfully, with support.

Any time Maia is around, Bambi is definitely much more comfortable. But it was nice to see Mara make an effort to adjust her approach and to realize that Bambi’s response was analytical. Bambi had a bit of concern, so she stepped away. Maia’s interaction with Mara was promising, showing that there doesn’t necessarily need to be two separate groups of elephants. Mara is seemingly wanting to share time with Bambi, but it remains to be seen if Bambi will allow that relationship to be repaired. 


  1. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    The evolving dynamics are so interesting. Is Bambi totally blind in one eye? How much vision is in the other eye, if you can tell. 🐘❤️

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      It’s impossible to tell. Although we had the wildlife ophthalmologist specialist here, and Bambi was great for exams, you can’t determine how much vision loss there is. Due to her lack of response, we have always believed her vision was very limited in her left eye, if present at all. Now we see her ability to locate things has diminished, indicating the vision in her right eye is declining as well.

    • REPLY
      Beji says

      What a great close up…. beautiful pic

  2. REPLY
    Alejandra Enquin says

    Gracias Marita querida por tu amable gesto,por tu comprensión,por tu empatía con Bambina,sos un amor y te quiero mucho!!!

  3. REPLY
    Carol says

    So sad for Bambi girl. It must be so difficult and scary for her. Thank goodness she is in the perfect place to help her adapt.
    Sending love and prayers to Bambi and all🙏🏻🫶🏻❤️‍🩹💖💖💖💖

  4. REPLY
    Barb says

    Ongoing dynamics . . Fascinating!

  5. REPLY
    Terry says

    I think, as it always seems to be at sanctuary, all relationships will eventually mend and repair. They all have each other in freedom and abundance in each precious moment together. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  6. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    This has been very fascinating! I feel, with Maia’s help, Bambi’s going to be just fine. As someone who is also gradually losing eyesight, I can relate!!

  7. REPLY
    Susan says

    “Mara is seemingly wanting to share time with Bambi, but it remains to be seen if Bambi will allow that relationship to be repaired.”

    Repaired? Oh dear. I am newer to your organization so I missed previous posts about a fractured relationship between the two girls. What happened? Did they ever get along? 🥺

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      welcome, and thanks for joining us. rana, mara, and bambi used to be relatively attached at the hip, we called them the Powerpuff girls. in february, Bambi had trouble getting up from lying down. the leg she can’t bend was her down leg, and with the angle she was at, she couldn’t get the leverage to get up. she did get up later that day with the help of some strategically placed hay bales, but when she got up, rana and mara didn’t welcome her or get excited, they seemed somewhat indifferent. after that, their relationship started to shift. maybe a month later, when bambi started losing more of her vision due to her cataract, she distanced herself physically from rana and mara, and that is when maia found her at the back of yard 5 and within 48 hours they become good friends. the dynamics have been shifting significantly this year. but you can look back through the blog for more details on how everything evolved.

  8. REPLY
    Maureen says

    Good on Maia for being slow, quiet and patient to give Bambi time to figure out who was there. Even though Bambi chose to move away, it was in a controlled manner and not total anxiety. It seems Guille too is learning that to be near Bambi she must be much calmer and give her time. Adjusting to the loss of her eyesight can’t be an easy thing for Bambi. It’s an adjustment for all of the ladies and will take time and patience. They are all in the right place and will get there together ❤️

  9. REPLY
    Diane Kastel says

    I guess that I am out of the loop because I need a refresher in what happened for the need for “Bambi” and “Mara” ‘s relationship to be repaired?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      they haven’t been in a great place since around the time that Bambi had troubles getting up in February. there wasn’t a single incident that caused it, but you can look back and read some of the posts to understand more.

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