The video is from yesterday, but we had many many requests to see Mara and Rana’s first touches, and also when the gate was opened up between Rana and Mara. We will work on trying to get the other video done today as well. The videos are on the long side, but it’s because we are trying to share the bigger picture of the little steps that make up each big step.
Right now, everyone here is good; it’s nap time. Mara and Rana are taking a standing nap by the big shade tree at the back of yard two, and Maia is under itchy scratchy tree napping in yard one. Lady is out by the pond in yard four.
This was the first time both elephants touched each other. With all of the excitement and vocalizations from Rana the first night and next morning, Mara didn’t get close enough for her to touch her. They were much more relaxed in the afternoon, and this is what happened. The whole sequence probably lasted about an hour.
To try to head off some questions- the backing up is often submissive, but it is also a way elephants who have known each other for years will approach, no matter where they are in the hierarchy. The urination can also be submissive, but the elephants in TN used to have what we called pee parties. Any time they were apart for more than two minutes, they would come together and vocalize and urinate. There is a lot of information that is passed through urine, and the other elephants will always pay close attention to and smell it. It’s also an excitement response- you will see both Rana and Mara do it. Both girls are rumbling almost the entire time, although Mara’s tend to be the much deeper rumbles. They cause everything around her to vibrate. Mara lifting her foot seems to be a combination of two things- it’s a little bit of looking for approval, but she also seems very tactile with her feet. Some elephants are- Tarra used to use her foot to touch many things, including Bella, her dog.
Everything you see in the video is incredibly positive; it’s textbook perfection.