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Mara Trading Up

Mara likes to trade, and we’ve shared videos of her trading before. She usually trades objects (sticks, empty buckets, banana peels) for fruit. It’s adorable and endearing.

The other night we offered her a cabbage – sometimes she likes cabbage, and sometimes she doesn’t. She took it very gently and curled it inside her trunk. She stood there for about five seconds, holding the cabbage, and then she handed it back to trade it. When she trades an item, she has a bit of an inquisitive expression on her face, as if to ask, “do you want this?” It’s usually accompanied by her little “Errr?” noise, which goes up at the end as if it’s a question. It felt very polite as she gently handed the cabbage back, hoping to trade it for something better.

A few minutes later, while walking down the fence line, she was searching with the tip of her nose in the grass. We weren’t sure what she was looking for, but then her trunk came up clutching a squash. It looked like it had been there for a couple of days, and our vacuum cleaners Rana & Bambi had missed it. She handed it to us, hoping to trade it. In exchange, we gave her the large piece of watermelon that we were already going to give her.

While her squeaks can get her care team to do almost anything for her, it’s sweet that she sometimes hands it back when she doesn’t want something. Rana may feel differently, especially since she loves cabbage so much.

Photo of Mara, heading towards snacks, with Bambi closely following.

Comments(25)

  1. REPLY
    cintia abney says

    She is a smart cookie! I bet she buried the squash between the foliage to trade it when the opportunity comes 🙂

  2. REPLY
    Carol says

    Ingenious!!!

  3. REPLY
    Sue says

    How adorable Mara is!! I wish I had tried this technique with Spinach growing up!!! Thank you for the story, you know we love them!! ❤️🐘❤️ No vacuum emoji that I could see, lol, so settling for two brooms 🧹🧹 🥰🥰

  4. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    I’m smiling ear to ear, just thinking of the Mara sounds. She really does make some of the most precious sounds I have ever heard. It seems as if she may know that, doesn’t it? I’m glad she was having a bit of fun with her trading skills.

  5. REPLY
    Nannette Stone says

    Mara your manners are impeccable. You certainly know what you want though

  6. REPLY
    Camilla Carter says

    That is so very endearing, if she doesn’t want it then maybe someone else will and gives it back.

  7. REPLY
    Nancy J Shaw says

    I LOVE IT !!

  8. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    That is the cutest sweetest thing! Oh my heart Mara is so precious! All elephants are so darn smart!

  9. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    What.a funny girl she is! So diplomatic 🤗

  10. REPLY
    John says

    Well, all I can say is…….. awww! Such fascinating creatures. Thank you AGAIN for the informative and interesting post.

  11. REPLY
    Wim says

    Very clever girl there’s a bright future in her trade business. Absolutely adorable Miss Mara. 🙏🐘

  12. REPLY
    Andy Ingram says

    Mara and her trading skills are exquisitely sweet.

  13. REPLY
    Suzanne Eaton says

    OMGosh! Mara is so precious and precocious and adorable in every way. Thank you for sharing your wonderful blogs of our girls. I can tell how much you cherish each little thing about them. They are so fortunate to have you as their advocates. True love!!

  14. REPLY
    Beji says

    You and your tram must wake up every morning and thank God for the jobs you have! Why is it that we feel such a deep connection to these majestic creatures.? It’s truly awe inspiring.

  15. REPLY
    katharine says

    Another way to say how she trades: she “trunks” it, rather than
    hands it”…

  16. REPLY
    Carey says

    So adorable, I’m happy she is enjoying her life with friends and caregivers. Please explain because I must have missed information about her – what does she have pain relief for?
    She seems to be a fragile being, but with so much oomph and with so many beautiful characteristics and wish wish wish she would get better.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      She has had GI issues since maybe August of last year. It is undiagnosed, but if you search the blogs for ‘Mara’, you can find some of the older blogs where we talk about it, since it’s a long and involved story.

  17. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH THIS SMART GAL🐘 MARA!! SHE MUST BE FEELING ALOT BETTER!❗️CAN U IMAGINE. SHE KNEW EXACTLY WHERE THE OLD PIECE OF 🍠SQUASH WAS FOR HER BARTER😀❗️
    ITS A GOOD SIGN SHES FEELING LIKE SHE WANTS TO EAT CERTAIN THINGS LIKE WATERMELLON! 🍉🍉PERHAPS CABBAGE 🥬GIVES HER TOO MUCH “GAS”❗️ MARA MAKES ME LAUGH! SHE SURE HAS TRADING TRAINING FROM CIRCUS DAYS AND ZOO TOO. I PRAY 🙏 MARA IS GETTING FAR MORE HEALTHIER RECENTLY👍

  18. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    Mara is a clever, precocious girl! I bet her side kick Bambi will be learning some of Mara’s trading tricks!!🐘🐘♥️

  19. REPLY
    Patricia says

    Oh, Mara, that is adorable, sweet, and very smart. I love it that you are honored for the amazing and intelligent girl that you are. I am so grateful that I almost always leave this page with a big smile. Love to you, your sisters, and your hoomans. (If I don’t it’s because someone isn’t well, or has died. Sigh.)

  20. REPLY
    Bernadette Andaloro says

    Such a sweet story. Made my heart smile.

  21. REPLY
    Sallie says

    AWESOME MARA, IS SUCH AN ADORABLE & SWEET ELEPHANT, GIVEN HER COMPLICATED HEALTH ISSUES. HER PERSONAL HOBBY OF TRADING FOOD & OBJECTS IS SO ENDEARING. SHE KNOWS SHE HAS AN. ABUNDANCE OF CHOICES, USING THEM IN HER RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALL WHO HEAD IN HER DIRECTION! SHE KNOWS HOW TO BUILD FRIENDSHIPS! BRAVO, GORGEOUS GIRL!

  22. REPLY
    Claudia says

    💖

  23. REPLY
    Ercie says

    So I take it that this time Mara is behaving well with Bambi and there have been no more bad behavior incidents?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      No, she has been great with Bambi, but Bambi has definitely adjusted her behavior as well.

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