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Sanctuary Is a Journey: Mara and Bambi

Bambi and Mara have had many positive interactions through the fence, so we felt it was time to try shared space with them again. For our regular followers, you may remember the three—Rana, Bambi, and Mara—were near instant friends until Mara started feeling unwell.

Recently, Rana and Bambi had been relaxing for a couple of hours by the mud wallow in Yard 1 when we opened the gate to allow Mara access from adjacent Yard 2. At first, it appeared that, true to her friendly nature, Bambi would walk into Yard 2 and approach Mara immediately, but then she hesitated, deciding against it. After a few minutes, Mara entered Yard 1. Moving at high speed, which can be alarming to other elephants, Bambi then approached Mara, who extended her ears out. At the last second, Bambi seemed to realize she needed to slow down for Mara and turned around, an adjustment that shows her growth and learning. She later approached Mara at a perpendicular angle with her rear first, a display of submissiveness. Mara did well with Bambi for about two minutes but then pushed her.

Mara’s reaction was likely confusing to Bambi, who wants to be closer to her new herd mate. Bambi’s inclination to be friends bested her judgment to walk away in this situation, and she stayed. Mara pushed her again, bumping her into the fence this time. Finally, Bambi walked away, but Mara soon followed with intention. We closed the gate behind Bambi, separating her from Rana and Mara to give her space and security. We also opened Yard 5 if she chose to wander even further.

Rana, visibly displeased with Mara’s behavior, followed Mara into Yard 2 and attempted to diffuse the situation by vocalizing. Bambi was not injured and did not seem scared. We didn’t see the same reaction from Bambi we saw at the zoo, where she repeatedly retreated within herself and hid in a corner. Part of that is because, in our vast space, Bambi knows she is no longer trapped and has plenty of room to separate from others. Nonetheless, Mara’s behavior was not kind.

Bambi lingered in Yard 1 for a few moments and then walked into 5. A few hours later, we heard trumpeting and checked the cameras to see Mara, Rana, and Bambi passively socializing along the fence.

We aren’t sure what shifts within Mara, why she spends hours positively interacting with Bambi when there is a fence between them, but behaves differently when they share space. We believe it can partially be attributed to Mara’s health. From a medical perspective, Mara is stable. She is eating regularly and consistently. Her weight remains normal. But there are still days she doesn’t seem to feel good. As we humans know, when you’re under the weather, your tolerance for pretty much anything is lower. While Mara remains charming and engaging with her humans, these days she doesn’t have the same patience for elephants. It causes some difficulty for Bambi, who is trying to navigate a whole new life that is not straightforward. Bambi is doing most things right with Mara, yet she is still rebuked. Like in our own lives, when someone we love isn’t at 100 percent, we need to be patient and compassionate, which Bambi seems to understand.

Sanctuary is a journey, and relationships aren’t always easy. Elephants, however, tend to grasp the bigger picture. While we look for ways to support each individual elephant and nurture their interactions, we know that they are also processing events and emotions without any assistance from us. Just as Rana grew and learned when pushed away by Maia and Guida, Bambi will grow and learn from this experience.

Video of Mara on the far side of the fence, who calls to Bambi. Bambi is the first elephant who approaches, and Rana joins a few seconds later. It was filmed along a fence this morning, while Bambi and Rana had social time together.

November 20, 2020

 

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Comments(15)

  1. REPLY
    Julie says

    I am dying for Bambi, but I’m trying to focus on how relatively happy she is right now compared to how she was at rescue and, like you said, how many more options she has at sanctuary. I’m sending prayers to you precious Bambi! ❤️

  2. REPLY
    Bo says

    Fingers crossed Mara is not reacting this way because of health issues and that it is just a case of

    “Sorry miss Bambi but I already have a bestie, and her name is Rana!”

    Hope things will turn better soon. Until then: peace is the message lovely ladies!

  3. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    As ever, thank you for all your insights regarding elephants. I find that there are very many similar associations between humans, especially we females. e.g. In any threesome there can only be two who are best friends, although when each is with the third elephant they are good friends.

  4. REPLY
    BONNIE FERGUSON says

    Seems like Mara could be jealous?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      It doesn’t appear that way. Bambi was much more interested in Mara. Even when Bambi is sharing space with Rana, many times she would still rather be with Mara. When Maia visits Rana and Mara, Rana almost always spends time with just Maia and Mara doesn’t respond at all. Initially, Mara was very attached to Rana, but at this point, she doesn’t mind when they are apart. There just seems to be something about having Bambi right next to her that Mara isn’t appreciating right now.

  5. REPLY
    Tammy says

    One day at a time…..sisters do have disagreements some pretty rough but we know inside they truly do love each other as they say this too shall pass tomorrow is another day…..big hugs to you all 🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘

  6. REPLY
    Sallie says

    PATIENCE & TIME. PERIOD.

  7. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    Mara appears to tolerate Bambi when along the fence line so probably feels more comfortable knowing she has separation from Bambi’s excitable intentions. If Mara feels “off” she will not welcome an over zealous sister who craves her affection. I do wonder if this was the case with Maison, too. Rana is much more tolerant of Bambi and I am so glad she finds times for our new girl. Poor, sweet Bambi. She loves her life now and wants to embrace everything….and that means Mara…but she is gradually showing signs of learning to hold back. Bless her heart.

  8. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH DEAR! SWEET EXUBERANT LOVING🥰🐘❤️ BAMBI! I GUESS THIS IS THE FIRST TIME MARA HAS ACTED OUT BY PUSHING BAMBI!! NOT REALLY TOO GREAT AS BAMBIE WAS
    PUSHED AROUND BY MADISON ALOT WHICH CAUSED HER TO BE VERY DEPRESSED UNTIL SCOTT CAME FOR HER👍 I FEEL BAD FOR BAMBI AS HER INTENTION IS TO BE VERY HAPPY WITH EVERYONE❗️YES MARA 🐘THE GORGEOUS CALM LADY WOULDNT HAVE BEEN TO HAPPY THAT HER FRIEND HAS BEEN NASTY TO BAMBI! YES MARA IS NOT FEELING GOOD RECENTLY! BUT I RECALL SHE SHARED SPACE WITH 2 AFRICANS! HOWEVER, ONE AFRICAN FELL INTO THE WATER MOAT?? I REALLY HOPE MARA GETS A DIAGNOSIS. SOON ON WHATS BOTHERING HER! I SURE HOPE BAMBI DOESNT BECOME TOO FEARFUL! YES INDEED DEA BAMBI HAS BEEN LEARNING GRACIOUS REACTION! NOT FLEEING OR NOR DISPLAYING NERVOUSNESS/DEPRESSION‼️ I PRAY MARA GETS A CAUTION⚠️ CHAT FROM RANA AND THERE IS NEVER ANOTHER INCIDENT AGAINST BAMBI✅

  9. REPLY
    Ercie says

    Video? I’m not seeing a video posted.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      It shows up on the backend of the page, not sure why there is a public issue. Working on it.

  10. REPLY
    FRANCINE FORD says

    Is there a video? I’m looking and don’t see one & I don’t want to miss a thing. When Mara 1st began showing signs of possibly not feeling well and off put by Bambi’s exuberance, I mentioned wondering if that is what was going on back at the zoo with Maison. Bambi’s excitement may have been too much for Maison as well. But I’m so glad to hear that Bambi has the control to calm down & approach differently. I’m also happy to hear that Rana had Bambi’s back & saw that it was not Bambi’s fault & that Bambi even changed her body language to fit in the situation & that it was Mara who was “off”. You all are awesome at observing & picking up all their cues no matter how subtle & making fencing adjustments to suit the situation. These Golden Girls are so fortunate to now have the land, ways, means & hoomans who care enough to try to make each girl’s journey a great one. ❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Some weird computer glitch. The video is back. 🙂

  11. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    Oh Mara, Mara, Mara. I wish we knew what the problem is. I’m proud of Bambi for learning patience, even though it doesn’t seem to be paying off for her at the moment. I’m even happier that she seems not to be giving up and running away inside herself. I cannot imagine how confusing it is to Rana and to Bambi and to you guys………….why it is such a different reaction for Mara with a fence in between them.

  12. REPLY
    Sunny says

    Sounds like there’s a reason for Mara to feel more comfortable with a fence between.

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