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Sorting Through Emotions

Rana and Mara

Our three little ladies, Mara, Rana, and Bambi, had a bit of a falling out. A couple of days after the fire, everyone, humans and elephants, seemed to get a little wonky. There was a lot of emotion involved with the fire, and sometimes, when not dealt with in the moment, they rear their heads a bit later. The girls had been great during and after the fire; there were no signs of any issues between them. A couple of days after, we did 10:00 p.m. feed, it was the first big rain, and all of the girls were standing together under the bushes, keeping somewhat dry. They all seemed snug and well.

The next morning, Bambi was at the top of Yard 3, and Rana and Mara were in Yard 2. Since they had been sharing space, they had never been that far apart, so we figured something might be up. Everyone was fine physically, but Bambi seemed a little withdrawn. We didn’t want to force anything, so we closed the gate between them to see how everyone acted and what they did. Eventually, Bambi came down and went into one stall with Mara and Rana closed in the other. Things were definitely off when they came into the barn. There were no vocalizations. Mara had learned that she could make Bambi trumpet by making her squeaky noise, so it was rare to have much silence between them for too long. Rana stayed back and the other two started interacting through the gate. They would touch and be OK, Mara would make her cute noise, but then she would try to bite Bambi’s trunk. Mara was definitely sending mixed signals. Nothing we had seen in the past. They went outside a little later, still in separate yards, and both Mara and Bambi got a little pushy with each other over the top bar.

We’re not sure what happened. It’s impossible to know. As people have seen with Lady, there are sometimes these individual boundaries that get pushed. In 25 years, we have actually never experienced elephants getting along so well and then taking this kind of a step backward. It is possible that it is linked to Mara not feeling well and Bambi simply having too much energy at times. We mentioned in recent posts that Mara wasn’t eating as well, and we thought it was due to the heat since her attitude and appetite increased as soon as the sun began to sink. Now we think it may be an actual health issue. There are numerous things we are looking into but don’t have any concrete answers yet (so please don’t ask a million questions that we can’t answer.)

When we were in Tennessee, we saw something similar between two elephants that were loving friends. Misty and Dulary adored each other, but Dulary had fairly regular GI issues (related to urinary issues), and when she felt sick, she was not the nicest of friends. Misty didn’t have to do anything ‘wrong’ in any way, she just had to gently approach at the wrong time, and Dulary would hit her. Misty was big and ridiculously sweet, so she accepted being a bit of a punching bag for her friend. When she felt better, things would go back to ‘normal,’ and Misty would act as if nothing had ever happened. Mara and Bambi haven’t had enough time to become that close of friends yet, though.

For a couple of days, Bambi preferred to be out in the woods in Yard 5, checking in every once in a while. Recently she has become more interested in being friends again. The three have had some sweet interactions along the fence line during the day and also that we watched at night on the camera. Yesterday morning, since everyone seemed mellow, we decided to give Bambi, Mara, and Rana access to 1 & 2, to see how they were. Bambi was excited to join the other two again, but a little too excited and not so great with boundaries. She was standing next to them for only a short time before Mara nudged her with her head. Bambi immediately left, and Mara took a few steps to follow. Bambi circled around and almost looked like she wanted to try again, but Mara’s posture was clear that she wasn’t open to it. All the while, Rana was trying to diffuse things, staying with Mara, trumpeting playfully.

Just for clarification, since we know it’s hard to imagine what goes on between elephants, these nudges aren’t super aggressive. They’re not nice, but they are only a tiny fraction of the energy they could put into a confrontation. We have definitely seen Dulary hit Misty much harder than this. It’s a quick lift of the head, leading with the base of the trunk. It’s not like when an elephant pulls back to build up momentum to hit someone or something, or when there is follow through with the rest of their trunk or charging. Because we know Bambi will run if truly scared, that she is faster than all of our elephants, and there are plenty of ways out (facilities are designed specifically for that), there isn’t too much concern with putting them in together. Especially since we know Mara does like her.

Since Rana has been calm with everything and is her usual grounding force, we have let Bambi and Rana spend time together to help alleviate some of the high-energy Bambi has in her excitement to be with the other two. Hopefully, this can help diffuse some of what is going on, but there’s no way to know how it will play out. When we come down at 10:00 p.m. for night feed, all three are at the fence, touching and rumbling loudly. It is all very sweet and affectionate, which is part of our suspicion that Mara’s response is due to her own physical discomfort. We also let Maia into the mix, spending time with Mara, and sometimes Mara and Rana, so she doesn’t feel left out. Lady continues to spend her time in Yard 4 right now, showing no interest in the girls trying to sort through their emotions.

As with all healing, this is a process, and we’ll continue to try to nurture what is going on between the girls until they get back to a good place with each other. We will share any changes to Mara’s health or the girls’ relationships as they occur.

Photo of Mara (foreground) and Rana (background)

October 23, 2020

 

Asian habitat map rev6

Comments(24)

  1. REPLY
    Barb says

    No questions ๐Ÿ™‚. We will wait for your updates about the interactions between the girls. Lady has no time for any of this ๐Ÿ˜โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Nothing ever goes completely in a straight line, and you are dealing with elephants that have a lot of grief in their past. They will have to work it out between them, and if it is something physically wrong then you will do your best to heal them. We all have our grouchy moments when we do not feel too well, then things get better in time. I will say a prayer for all of you, elephants and humans, that this will get sorted out very soon and that all will be well.

  3. REPLY
    arie says

    Let us hope that they just had a little disagreement, maybe over ‘who’s turn it is to maw lawn’. Happens in the best households.
    As long they kiss and make up in the end.. ๐Ÿค—โค๏ธ

    • REPLY
      Alejandra(Sandy)Enquin says

      Mara querida dulce de leche, sanate de tu malestar๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’•.Bambi espero la comprendas corazon y que puedan retomar sus juegos y charlas estruendosas.Y dulce Rana siempre poniendo tu paz y amor.

  4. REPLY
    John Perrigo says

    I love the idea of one, in this case Rana, trying to be the mediator or peacemaker. Animals are so much more than we ever thought. I live near the Ringling Brothers Circus World Museum in Wisconsin. I’ve gone through the exhibits a few times. It pains me to see the visual evidence of how we treat(ed) animals.

  5. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Yes it must be very difficult at times not knowing what is actually going on. I guess labs will tell part of the story to understand if its medical or emotional. Thankfully the girls have the best of both worlds helping them with their issues science and years of experience to get a little insight to know which direction to lean. Wish there were a quick fix but you all will get to the bottom of it i’m sure of that, love and hugs from snowy Minnesota ๐Ÿฅด ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ’– ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ’œ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ’ž

  6. REPLY
    Mara Parker says

    I hope Mara is ok.

    • REPLY
      FRANCINE FORD says

      I agree with Carmen Dalziel 1000%. Had the same thoughts she said.
      The Golden Girls may have snits, but just like the Golden Girls on tv, they will always be together no matter what.
      Ms Bambina doesn’t quite know the rules of the herd yet, but she’s a quick learner.
      Hoping Mara’s ok. Thank You so much for keeping us all in the loop.
      ๐Ÿ˜โค๐Ÿ˜โค๐Ÿ˜โค๐Ÿ˜โค๐Ÿ˜โค๐Ÿ’œ

  7. REPLY
    Carmen Dalziel says

    Would be wonderful to know elephant lingo! But at least you understand their body language haha! I hope it’s nothing major and Mara is healthy but just being a little bitchy. We females do get like that sometimes haha! I hope all is well and Bambi be completely loved and accepted by Mara and Rana. I wish Lady would feel sorry for Bambi and make friends. It did cross my mind that perhaps it’s a pecking order sorta thing or Mara with a bout of possessiveness over her newfound forever friend Rana. Maybe Rana’s getting a kick outta being the popular one in their dynamic.

    Watching Bambi come out of the travel trailer so quickly, reacting so positive as she explored all of her new beginnings of freedom has been a joy to see. She has a child-like enthusiasm in her, so innocent yet bravely energetic. I think Bambi loves her world now and we are witnessing a strong elephant display an abundance of new emotions as she experiences firsts and she doesnt know what to do with them around other elephants. I hope all goes well!

  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    Thank you so much for the lengthy explanations of their behaviours and actions followed by reactions. Sincerely hope and pray this is not a serious health issue. Wishing all of you peaceful days without stress or hardships.
    ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ™

  9. REPLY
    Sunny says

    I can’t help feel sad for Bambi and concerned for Mara. I hope everything resolve in a nice way. Have a nice weekend. And, as always, thank you for keeping us posted ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    I have to tell you, as much as it was so hard to read this, I am LMAO at Lady wanting nothing to do with this, LOLOL Bambi being the fastest is a hoot, too. I guess I have to ask, do you mean that she’s the fastest of those three, or is Maia included in that mix. I am already certain Lady is not in the equation for speed.

    I really do hope Mara’s issues aren’t difficult, she has always been such a sweetie. She certainly makes the sweetest sound I may have ever heard. I am so proud of and impressed with Rana and glad that she is including Bambi and trying to keep the peace.

    Best of luck to the girls and to you, sending some good vibes and hope to all.

  11. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Sending gentle hugs to all the girls.

  12. REPLY
    Paula says

    Ruego al universo que Mara no tenga ningรบn problema serio de salud ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™Ella debiรณ esperar dรฉcadas para tener una vida digna…๐Ÿ˜”
    Agradezco con toda mi alma que Mara esta en sus manos!โค

  13. REPLY
    pam says

    Best wishes to the girls and you all. Thank you for sharing the updates, and fingers crossed for good health and happiness for all.

  14. REPLY
    Sallie says

    Like all friends, ya gotta work it out when there’s an issue. Girls will be Girls . . . Stuff happens, but the most important thing, is that everything works out amongst themselves. Friendships are too valuable to waste and these Girls know this from their hearts . . .

  15. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Thank you for communicating with us.

  16. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    A lifetime of cruelty and neglect creates complex internal issues for these girls to deal with. I will always remember Bambi standing in the dark corner at the zoo, the saddest most forlorn face, afraid to go outside. Now so anxious and happy to have friends. I hope this little tiff doesnโ€™t last long, and Mara does not have serious health issues. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜โ™ฅ๏ธ

  17. REPLY
    Bo says

    You can’t watch them all the time and even then, we don’t speak animal. And they don’t speak human.

    We all know and understand that these elephants are not very very young and might have health issues, also mental issues.
    They never grew up in a herd so it is probably very normal to have a bit of moody moments going on.
    Fingers crossed it is nothing more.
    They all are in the best of hands but I feel for Bambi though.

  18. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    OH MY GOODNESS! FUNNY HOW I WAS THINKING NOT LONG AGO, WHEN ๐Ÿ˜MARA WOULD GET UPSET OR ANNOYED WITH ๐Ÿ˜BAMBIโ“ MARA REALLY LATCHED ONTO RANA๐Ÿ˜ AFTER ARRIVAL SHE WAS VERY VOCAL AND LOVING WITH RANA RIGHTFULLY SO THEY WERE BOTH SO LONELY! WITH BAMBI COMING AND HER EXUBERANCE OF MEETING RANA AND MARA IT WAS LIKE SHE TOOK MORE TO MARA! BUT I THOUGHT…..OH. MARA AND BAMBI ARE SO EXTRAVERTED I WONDER IF THEY WILL EVER FALL OUT! WELL I GUESS THERE IS A REASON SOMEWHERE! I HOPE THIS ALL WASHES AWAY SOON AND DEAR CALM SWEETNESSโค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ RANA. GETS THE SOCIAL WORK OPERATING SO THE GALS MAKE UP๐Ÿ˜I THINK HAVING MAIA ๐Ÿ˜COME INTO THE YARD WAS A GREAT DISTRACTION FOR THIS WEE FALLING OUTโ—๏ธI SURE HOPE THE LADIES WILL CONTINUE TO MEND THE FENCES….AS THEY ALL NEED THE LOVE OF EACH OTHERโ€ผ๏ธ

  19. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    I feel for Bambi and I hope this rejection of affection from Mara doesn’t set her back. She has settled so well since coming home to sanctuary. However, I also feel concerned for Mara…this does sound as though she isn’t feeling too well and won’t tolerate Bambi’s demonstrative approach. Maybe it is stress from the upsets of the past week. Stress can affect all of us and make itself known with gut issues. I can only hope it will pass. Thankfully, our precious Rana helps to calm things down.
    Be brave and calm sweet Bambi! Be well soon, darling Mara. Be your beautiful self, dear Rana.

  20. REPLY
    Suzanne says

    Could it just be that two is company and three is a crowd? Bambi has been isolated for so long….now is happy to be with her kind, showing her enthusiasm….. Possibly Mara gets tired of it & pushes her away to be with her friend Rana alone? Sounds like middle school girl trouble.. hopefully Bambi will have someone to be her BFF soon. My heart goes out to her <3

  21. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    If you need a volunteer to watch all the footage of your cameras to see if anything happened, I have plenty of time ๐Ÿ˜Š

  22. REPLY
    Carol Anderson says

    Just like humans, we have our good and bad days. Hope thats all it is.

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