Mara Lying Down in the Morning

Update on Mara from Friday evening:

It’s been a long day – sorry for the delay in sharing an update. Mara is with Rana and Bambi eating hay right now, but this morning started very differently. When we arrived, Mara was lying down with her two sisters standing over her. She appeared calm and, although sometimes at night they will remain laying down when we arrive, this is not normal during the day. Bambi and Rana were calm, but very attentive to Mara, touching her with gentle reassurance and sometimes both standing side by side, protecting their sister. After a few minutes, we were able to separate the other two girls, moving them to the other side of the nearby fence and into Yard 4, allowing us to more thoroughly assess Mara. All the while Rana and Bambi stood nearby watching everything that went on.

With closer observation, we could see that Mara was relaxed, both in her face and body. The area around her was moderately disturbed, without any notable sign that Mara had been struggling to get up. We mentioned the other day how deeply exhausted she looked, so the choice was made to let her be for the time being, make plans for different scenarios moving forward, but allow her to help determine the next steps. A big part of that decision was knowing she needs the rest, and not wanting to disturb that chance if it was all that she was doing. We have known several elephants who, when ill, laid down for 6-8 hours and were much better after. Yet, when people see an elephant down at a time and in a position that is atypical, many times it triggers a panic mode, wanting to immediately “save” her. Our approach is to let them lead us, allowing them to dictate what they need and when.

This is far from our first time dealing with an elephant who is down, sometimes ending well and other times not, so we are able to stay calm and go about our approach in a methodical way, which helps the elephants remain relaxed. There was no stress when we arrived and no need for us to be the ones to introduce that. Meds were given, blood was drawn, and hay bales were brought out to help prop her up, if needed. While she rested and Rana and Mara watched her and ate, we discussed a medical approach with our vets, the caregiving team, and our international elephant vets. We began talking about placing an IV catheter as the next step (standing near her) and about three minutes later, Mara showed signs of being ready to get up.

The ease in which she stood was actually impressive for her condition. Some healthy elephants rock back and forth several times to get momentum on their side, but Mara rocked once and was propped a little bit from the hay bales. It was clear she was thoughtful of her movements, she paused for a moment, got her feet under her, placed her front legs carefully, stood on them, and then her back legs. Within seconds she was up, a little muddy, but standing.

Almost immediately she took a few steps and started eating some of the hay that had been for her. We threw her some produce, and she took that as well. Her abdomen was no longer distended; the gas pocket had resolved. Whether it resolved last night, and she decided she wanted to lie down due to the increased comfort, or lying down helped get rid of it, we don’t know. But it was gone. Aside from one blowing noise from Bambi, her sisters remained calm throughout it all, and that is how the morning continued.

Somewhat surprisingly, Mara seemed really bright. A little tired, but her eyes were very lively and she was even playful. We leave the hay bales full when using them for support and she decided to battle the bale in trying to get it to break open. You can see some of this in the video. The more the hay resisted her, the more determined she became – typical Mara.

Mara ate for most of the day, came back to the barn on her own, had a good drink, and continued with more food. She came into the chute so we could give her a pain injection and also check her over. The stump that was by her face during the evening caused an abrasion on her cheek, but otherwise, there were no scrapes, bumps, or bruises, which can be widespread with an elephant who bloated or with colic, is down. One thing we did notice is that although her spirit seemed good, her body is weak. Her life and the issues from the past 8 months have all taken a lot out of her.

Where things go from here, we don’t know. She could be weak enough that she decides to lie down again and possibly decide she is done fighting. Or the long rest could be what she needs to start feeling better, or this may just be one part of a longer journey. Our job is to make sure that she remains comfortable and is supported in whatever way possible. Rana and Bambi offer her more emotionally than we ever could; in truth, there is no comparison. But we do what we can.

Right now, we are watching them on the camera. All three girls are helping to consume the muddy hay that was left from this morning’s saga, acting as if all is well in the world. It’s that living in the moment thing that us humans don’t seem to be able to do very well, yet seems second nature to them. We’ll go down again tonight at 10 pm to offer more food, and take it step by step.

Please send Mara your love, strength, and support.

This video was taken just a couple of minutes after Mara stood up. You can see her battle with the hay a bit. Rana and Bambi are also in the background, grazing and relaxed. They were very supportive sisters today. Their resilience and their understanding are humbling to say the least.

We would like to thank all of you for your love and support of the girls. Our team has also been phenomenal- relaxed, dedicated, and truly stepping back and making sure they are helping in a way that the girls need, not necessarily in a way that makes them feel better. Everyone pulling together this way makes it all much easier.


  1. REPLY
    cyrann says

    I pray for you dear Mara. You are surrounded by your sisters and your human family who love you and support you. Stay strong and enjoy everyday with your family ………..

  2. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Ai Marita linda, lots of good vibes and green light on your way.. stay well, you are loved, you have your sisters, you have moved from a bad past to a bright future. Don’t give up besutiful ?????

  3. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    It’s wonderful the way you let Mara lead.. They let you know if they will stay or It’s time to take their leave.

  4. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Thank you for your so thoughtful comments. We must remember that most of these elderly elephants have spent most of their lives being fed imperfect food and in terrible conditions and without the support of being a member of a herd.

    At least at their time of of life and in a sanctuary such as this, they have a chance of good treatment and and the companionship of others like them. We will hold them in our hearts, knowing that you can give them the care and support they need.

  5. REPLY
    elaine richard says

    What a wonderful, thorough, thoughtful post. I feel we must all prepare ourselves for whatever the future brings Mara. And it’s so reassuring to know you are there with her, standing by to give her your all. I’m sure she knows that too.

  6. REPLY
    Irene says

    ♥️??? Mara you in our thoughts!

  7. REPLY
    Sarah Bedford says

    Sending love and prayers to you all, especially to our beautiful Mara ???????

  8. REPLY
    Kathy says

    I’m so glad to hear about her getting up with ease , I’have learned so much from you and your approach is beautiful and very moving all that a sanctuary should be , I’m sending healing prayers emotionally and physically to you all and the herd !!! Thank you for this important update !!! I was thinking about her all day yesterday ?

  9. REPLY
    Nannette Stone says

    Mara, you are in my thoughts and prayers that your health will improve. It’s very heartwarming to see you with the hay, you wear it well sweet lady. Sometimes we all have to give in to what our bodies tell us and rest

  10. REPLY
    Nancy HartGold says

    Hang in there Mara, sending you love

  11. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    Well that was fun! Furry eyebrows and a little Fuzzy Hat !! ( : ( :

  12. REPLY
    Sue says

    Sending love and prayers to sweet, sweet Mara and to all those around her taking care to make her feel as safe and comfortable as possible. So thankful she is there at Sanctuary, surrounded by love. Humbling. Witnessing the grace and dignity of these incredible creatures, and humans, is a truly humbling experience. Love to all of you, keeping you in my heart with positive thoughts and prayers. ❤️?❤️

  13. REPLY
    Lynne Russert says

    Phew, she’s up. Hoping this was just her way of trying to feel better. Fingers crossed ?

  14. REPLY
    Christine Strickling says

    I am trying not to hold my breath reading this. Hoping and praying for significant recovery for Mara so that she may continue to enjoy the company of her dear friends, Rana and Bambi. The love that everyone at GSE has for these elephants comes through in these writings. I can only imagine the love and care that Mara is feeling being there. May God Bless you.

  15. REPLY
    Bobi StaySee says

    So incredibly moving. Gratitude for the shared moments translated for us. Being there, in her/their presence must be enormously powerful. Reading, witnessing the natural evolution of support in the moment demonstrated by Mara’s sisters is felt around the world through these words.

  16. REPLY
    Viqui says

    Mara, sos tan linda!!!? I ❤YOU!!!! ???

  17. REPLY
    Kristina Hoffmann says

    Mara certainly enjoy her hay!
    I hope she’s just needing extra rest for her old bones and has many happy days to come with her elephant sisters and humans who love her.

  18. REPLY
    Julie says

    Mara we love you! We are there for you, whatever the future holds. Love the. She really is one of the cutest elephants. Thank you for what must have been difficult to write!

  19. REPLY
    Pam Knaggs says

    I feel as if you are preparing us all for worst case scenario. We know you and all of your teams will do what’s best for her. She trusts you to do the same. Love her ele sisters!

  20. REPLY
    Constance harris says


  21. REPLY
    Audrey says

    ? ? ? Kudos to you all, for your hard work & determination to keep Mara healthy. Like you said it’s up to her, you can give her everything she needs, like food & meds. Her sisters will give her the emotional support, to help get her through this.
    They are very protective of her, as they would be in the wilds, even though I’m sure they don’t remember that anymore. Though, they do say an elephant never forgets.
    Thank you again for keeping Mara, & her sisters safe. ❤️ ?

  22. REPLY
    JamesMichael says

    Sweet, Sweet Mara- precious perfect Angel that you are – soothing, cooling, prayerful thoughts by so many of us for you in the hope for good health and happiness as you journey
    thru life, a wonderful life now that you have the safety and serenity of sanctuary…Love You, Love You, Love You…

  23. REPLY
    John says

    Awww jeeze……… you folks are the best! Prayers for Mara.

  24. REPLY
    Alana says

    Be well Mara. Much, much Love to all.

  25. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    Thank you for everything you do for these amazing beings. Mara is in our thoughts and much love and healing is being sent her way.
    Love always.
    Matt and Rosie

  26. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Mara, our hearts are with you. You are in the best place possible – now – and unfortunately we cannot change your past. Fortunately, you are an elephant and you live in the Now. Enjoy this well-earned life at Sanctuary with your wonderful friends, four and two-legged alike. ❤️?❤️

  27. REPLY
    Maria says

    Sending peace and positive thoughts for Mara’s improved wellbeing. I so admire and appreciate all that you do at the sanctuary. And I’m so thankful Mara has her amazing sisters for comfort.

  28. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I’ve been praying for Mara, now adding her humans in my prayers, as I now see how exhausting this must be for all of you!

  29. REPLY
    Merry says

    So much love to you all. Our arms are holding you.

  30. REPLY
    Wim says

    Sending you love and strength wonderful Mara.
    Sincerely hope your inner force will help you through this very difficult period in your life. Hopefully you’ll find living still worthwhile enough. Maybe your amazing sisters will be your guiding light. ??❤️

  31. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    I could see both how tired Mara was, but also, a bit of that determination of hers with the hay as the video continued. I am so impressed with Rana and Bambi, especially Bambi being so new to this as well. I can picture them, feel them, standing by their sister, their friend.

    I will hope that Mara is on a road to rebound, perhaps that gas working it’s way out will really help. We can’t blame her for being tired. I will hope all of them are well, humans too, whatever comes. Still, I will hope for the best. Mara may be tired, but it was also obvious how strong she is. It’s weird, every once in awhile, I remember Rana’s age, being the oldest, and it worries me sometimes, I will hope her strength and sweetness will keep her, Mara, and Bambi, and all to come……….living their best lives. Day to day, but with depth of feeling for each other and their moment by moment lives.

  32. REPLY
    Heidi says

    It sure feels good when you get rid of a gas bubble. She looks so joyful!

  33. REPLY
    Terry Feleppa says

    If we believe, from our heart and soul, that miracles do happen, they do!!! As sensitive and as tuned in as elephants are, no doubt Mara, Rana, and Bambi have felt the immense Love and Healing power put toward Mara from EVERYONE!!! You guys are sensational in keeping us apprised of her situation. I thank you for your deep compassion, dedication, and endless Love for the girls. This trilogy of Mara, Rana, and Bambi is truly magical!❤❤❤???

  34. REPLY
    SALLIE says


  35. REPLY
    Carol Anderson says

    It is hard to know that Mara has been dealing with such a lengthy illness. Is it normal for this problem to be ongoing for so long?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      It’s somewhat two-fold, as with humans, some GI issues can be lifelong. It’s just easier to diagnose due to available testing, and medicate with modern drugs that have never been used outside of the human species. The other side of that, is if she was in. most captive facilities, to be terribly blunt, she would be dead by now. Part of what has kept her alive is her multiple meals, which include her 10 pm feed, where she has always eaten the most. Most captive facilities would not offer this level of care for any extended period of time, nonetheless for 6 months. She would have been euthanized by now, although she doesn’t show signs of pain since starting her pain medication. This last bout was different, much more acute, with gas involvement. But before this, she was doing better than she had in the past few months. We hope to get to a point where she can be mostly ‘normal’, but there’s no way of knowing what the future will hold.

  36. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    Thanks so much for the continuing updates and information. I am going to hope that the gas reduction and her time down resting is a turning point, while being grateful for all you’ve done to give her these chances since her appetite and digestion issues first presented themselves. The discussion and posts here put me in mind of Bambi and her weight loss issues that led to her being sent, legally, to you at Sanctuary. I was just wondering if it seems as if Bambi’s issues are resolving or stabilizing a bit? No hurry to answer or anything, Mara’s problems just reminded me of the initial worries on Bambi. It’s great to see Bambi, with Rana, trying to just be there and be with Mara at this time.
    Thanks again for all you do.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Bambi has been doing well, putting on weight and muscle!

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.