Kat was working up the hill from the habitat one recent afternoon and heard a ruckus coming from down below – roaring, bellowing, and all sorts of vocalizing. Oftentimes, this happens when one of the three (Bambi, Mara, and Rana) gets separated from the others, and two of them are calling for their sister. The commotion stopped, but then about two minutes later, it started up again – this time much louder. In situations like these, we always like to have someone check on the elephants to make sure that everything is okay.
Kairo drove down to Yard 4 and found Rana and Bambi making a bit of a racket, but Mara was not with them. So he drove around for a while, looking for Mara in places that she generally likes to explore, but couldn’t see her from outside of the fence. We also couldn’t see her on the cameras. So Kairo headed back to the barn to see if he could spot her from there and saw her appear, walking towards the square.
It seems as though Mara decided to head to the barn earlier than usual for an early dinner, so she left her friends while they were distracted – perhaps sleeping or grazing. Sometimes when a group of friends lose track of one another, they seem to worry and call out. Of course Mara was fine; she was just hungry.
We don’t think that Bambi or Rana would sneak away from Mara, but Mara doesn’t seem to have a problem doing it to them sometimes, if food is involved. Because Mara was fed any time she wanted when she was having severe gastrointestinal issues, she tends to think she can still get food whenever she wants it. Because she is still a touch thin, we often oblige.
Everyone calmed down soon after Kairo came down, and Rana and Bambi seemed to appreciate that we acknowledged their worry. The elephants will often relax if they know a caregiver is going to help with their concerns. Mara ended up getting a little extra food before dinner because she has the humans here trained very well.
P.S.: The video here doesn’t capture the moment we describe, but it does show a moment of Bambi, Mara, and Rana together, with Bambi and Rana vocalizing. (Mara is hidden behind Rana here and doesn’t seem to make any noises – only snacking.) Rana is rumbling and trumpeting, while Bambi is blowing air through her nose.