The Ever-Shifting Line


When Rana & Lady share space in the mornings, and it’s time to separate them, Rana is usually the one we shift. Caregivers continue to supervise the two whenever they are together, due to Lady’s apprehension. We are still keeping the time relatively short as well, helping ensure the interactions stay positive, Maia and Rana have time together, and Lady can relax in the afternoon.

The other morning, Rana was so sleepy, and Lady was more active, so we asked Lady to head into the neighboring yard when it was time to close a gate between the two.

Lady was ready to go, so she started heading that way. Rana saw Lady moving to shift yards and stood utterly still and put her ears out. She smelled low around the ground and subtly watched. Even though Lady moves all of the time, Rana’s reaction was that of surprise – she looked at her humans as if to say, “Lady is moving! Do you see that?” Lady got close to the gate, and then, noticing Rana’s subtle reaction stopped moving.

Once Lady stopped moving, Rana decided it was her turn, so she headed towards Lady and the humans, apparently intending to go through the gate herself.

Lady has her Lady limits- which is an ever-shifting line of “how much is too much.” Rana doesn’t understand Lady’s limits any more than her humans do. According to Lady, Rana took one step too many and was close enough. Lady took a couple of quick steps through the gate and turned around, watching Rana to see what she would do. Rana stopped as well, realizing she had crossed the invisible line.

Immediately closing the gate could have made Lady feel justified in running away, or made Rana feel punished for coming over. Instead, we waited for a few minutes for both to settle naturally. Once they started eating, we closed the gate between Lady and Rana, and opened up for Rana to head back out to Maia.

Photo of Rana happily eating.

March 15, 2020


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  1. REPLY
    Barb says

    Complicated relationships indeed but you’ve got it covered. Sad for Lady’s apprehension but emotional “injury” is hard to overcome sometimes. Lady is in the the best of care to get her beyond. We love Lady and we love Rana’s patience.

  2. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    Oh that Lady!! This scenario is like a big sister letting a little sister know… okay I’m watching you, that is close enough!

  3. REPLY
    Heidi says

    So cute! They sound like our dogs. The little one is the boss. When I find the big one standing and looking longingly at her bed, I know the little one is sending out secret signals that she is guarding it from a distance. It’s so interesting to see that elephants have these signals and ever-shifting lines, too!

  4. REPLY
    Carey says

    A thoughtful act not shutting the gates immediately – it really makes sense – well done for holding your nerve : ) Again Granma Rana behaving with utmost politeness and sensitivity, good that Lady didn’t run and turned to face Rana and tell her. logical conversation! well done and well handled, at least you know its going to happen one day, it must take soooo much knowledgeable and awareness. Shifting lines indeed

  5. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Lady will get there some day. Mostly likely when you think it will not happen that day.

  6. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    I was gripped reading this. It’s an evolving story and the interactions between Lady and Rana show empathy and understanding on Rana’s part as well as great patience. I am sure Rana would love to have a closer relationship with Lady but she seems to understand that Lady is not ready for this just yet even though she is beginning to show trust in Rana.
    Also the human understanding of this is quite wonderful. Many would have run to close that gate, a natuaral response. It takes knowledge and courage and that seems to be in abundance here. I am in awe of humans and elephants in GSE. xxxxxxxx

  7. REPLY
    Carol Anderson says

    Well done!

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