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Rana the Caregiver Gatekeeper

Once our elephants have been here for a bit, they get a bit set in their ways and routines.  It’s true for most species – even humans. Though each day is a little different, there are certain things they come to expect in specific ways.  It’s something we don’t necessarily notice, and it’s likely the elephants don’t either… until a new caregiver starts to work with them.

Our training process for new caregivers is extensive. It takes a long time before a caregiver begins physically working with the elephants. Mateus has progressed through his training enough that he is starting to feed the elephants.  Although they have seen him around for many months, they are now interacting with him and testing him a little, something they have done with others before him.

Elephants tend to take respect seriously – if you respect them, they are much more likely to respect you.  When new caregivers begin working with them, they tend to test to see if the new person respects them.  They also like to see how much the new humans know.

Some elephants test their humans in a lot of small ways. A great example is drinking from the hose.  Mara drinks best if she has the hose in her mouth. Bambi likes to hold the hose in her nose and then put it in her mouth.  Rana is generally indifferent.  Something we have seen with elephants and new caregivers is when they offer them the hose, ‘normal’ and calm behavior sometimes disappears. They will chew on it or try to take the entire hose into the habitat with them or entice the other elephants to play tug of war with the hose.

When new caregivers first arrive and begin watching the processes, they see the perfected routines where everything looks simple and easy.  Then, the first time they try to give the girls a hose, the elephant may break it and drag it into the habitat.

When Scott or Kat feed the three together – Mara, Bambi, and Rana – Rana is generally pretty respectful.  She stays on her own food, and once Mara is done, she walks over and picks through the scraps.  When other people initially feed them, she may start walking to Mara’s food after a few minutes.  Caregivers will grab more hay for Rana to coax her away from Mara’s food and sometimes that is her goal.  Many times she is just trying to see what she can get away with by learning what a new person will notice and, more importantly, what they won’t notice.

Photo of Rana, looking very innocent

 

Comments(18)

  1. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Tricky girls! I bet the new caregivers feel lost for a while, with the ladies testing them all the time, until they “pass” the tests ❤️

  2. REPLY
    Nancy J Shaw says

    WOW I think it’s worse than parenting a human person hahaha

  3. REPLY
    Patricia Aguilar says

    Maybe they’re testing to see if the new caregiver wants to return them to their previous life’s routines of people first, elephant’s second, and they’re voicing their support for their newfound autonomy. Or maybe they’re just razing the newcomer. Elephants seem to have a well-developed sense of humor given half the chance.

  4. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Sweet, sly Rana! She didn’t get to her age and develop the ability to calm the other elephants without learning a bit about manipulation & motivation! 😊❤️🐘❤️🤗

  5. REPLY
    Holly O'Brien says

    So interesting! I am loving all things that have to do with elephants
    Thank you

  6. REPLY
    Lila Nieto says

    Sweet Rana 🙂

  7. REPLY
    John says

    Again, here you go with another descriptive, fascinating post. These girls are so interesting. Good luck Mateus. Don’t let them push you around!

  8. REPLY
    bo says

    To cheeky or not to cheeky, that is the question 🙂
    Many many grins while reading this update, hi hi hi, thank you very much!!
    How can you not love these wonderful gorgeous (cheeky) elephants ? !!

  9. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Just like little kids it’s a amazing how smart Animals are

  10. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    She’s irresistable with that cute face!

  11. REPLY
    Carey says

    good luck Mateus!!!!

  12. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    This is an absolutely beautiful photo of Rana. These stories of the girls always fascinated me. I was wondering if they ever show fear with a new care taker . 🐘♥️

  13. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    NOT RANA❤️SHES A SWEET LADY! IN MY EYES SHE COULD DO NO WRONG😄SHE MUST ONLY BE TRYING TO SNITCH MARAS FOOD BECAUSE SHES CHECKING IF THE NEW CARE GIVER SERVED MARA FOOD AND MAYBE MARA AND RANA HAVE CERTAIN SCRAPS AGREED UPON THAT RANA CAN TAKE! OR NEW PERSON WILL TAKE THESE FROM HER! MZ DEAR RANA IS JUST SEEING THAT THE SCRAPS FROM MARA ARE UTILIZED WITH THE “NO WASTE THEORY👍 RANA IS INDEED THE MATRIARCH JUST SEEING MARA GIT HER FOOD AND CHECKING WHAT SCRAPS SHE WILL GET LATER😀😃🤣
    THANKS I LOVE THE RESPECT HUMANS INFI👍

  14. REPLY
    Wim says

    The Giant Mind games, are human brains big enough to compete Elephants brains. Oh how l adore this jousting tournaments. 🙏🐘

  15. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    New caregivers also keep then elephants on their toes and vice versa. These are no dumb animals. they manipulate humans for their own amusement. Luckily they are with humans who respect them

  16. REPLY
    Carol Durham says

    Thank you for all of your interesting updates daily !! It helps us relate so much in our own psychology of life! And – of course we feel so much closer to your daily routines as well as those of the “big girls”.

  17. REPLY
    Sallie says

    These girls are sooooooooo “human” in nature! It is so fun to follow their physical AND mental antics! I love them all to bits, for all their unique diversity!

  18. REPLY
    Regis Dalton says

    You don’t mention Lady as often. I got nervous but I looked for a post about her and felt happy that she is still doing well. She is still a loner but seems very content in her world 😀

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