The Evolving Dynamics

Bambi Rana and Mara

With all the recent introduction videos, we are frequently asked if any of the elephants are dominant and how a third elephant is changing Mara and Rana’s dynamic. We wanted to take the time to talk about it in depth. Before beginning, it’s important to note that elephants are herd animals. Wild females live their entire lives in matriarchal herds with their extended family. There is no natural inclination for elephants to live in a group of two, nor would jealousy over other friendships have a place in a herd of elephants.

Mara is the most submissive of the three elephants, but none of them are behaving dominantly. Bambi is Mara’s first introduction here with her as the elephant who is comfortable and already at home, and she seems to be doing well. She hasn’t quite figured out how much her squeaks are exciting Bambi. Everything will be calm, and Mara will make her “ERRRR” noise. Bambi responds by becoming overly excited and trumpeting while Mara looks shocked that Bambi is excited again. It’s charming and endearing.

Rana has been very patient, accepting, and passive. She has been very food-oriented the past few weeks, making her quick to walk away to look for scraps of hay and fruit to eat. Since Bambi is underweight, there is lots of food around for Rana to find. Even when she is eating, Rana is paying close attention to Mara. When there is an increase in excitement or Mara’s body language changes even slightly, Rana will quickly run over to Mara to check-in. Once Rana reassures herself that Mara is fine, she will wander away again. Mara still struggles with insecurity and lack of confidence, so Rana’s behavior seems to help Mara’s comfort levels. It is also demonstrating to Bambi what it means to be a friend, and that it’s valuable to check in with and be there for others. Mara seems to follow Rana’s lead in general – so Rana’s patient acceptance seems to help demonstrate to Mara how to respond.

Bambi is not dominant either, but she is undoubtedly the most energetically over-the-top of the three elephants. She seems to be feeling significant levels of emotion and excitement that she just can’t contain or doesn’t seem to know what to do with. Due to the reality of captivity, she hasn’t felt such strong positive emotions for years, making it challenging to process the level of joy she feels about having a positive relationship with other elephants.

It’s both beautiful and sad that she is feeling so much joy and excitement for the first time in decades. It’s unfortunate it has been missing for so many decades that she doesn’t know what to do with her feelings, yet, at the same time, it’s so beautiful that she can feel them again. She wants to feel closer to the other girls and seems to want to be a part of something with them – it seems to fill her with love and joy.

At this point, the three of them are seeming to rotate with each other. We will look on the cameras and see Mara and Bambi together, with Rana off to the side. When we check later, Mara and Rana will be together, with Bambi off to the side. We also see Rana & Bambi together with Mara by herself, but we observe that less often. Rana and Bambi are starting to bond and are becoming more vocal together.

While Rana and Mara are very emotionally close and adore each other, they aren’t remotely exclusive. There is certainly room in their relationship for a third elephant, and we will see how things continue to progress. The three continued to share space last night during the overnight, and everyone seems pleased about it.

Photo: (front to back) Bambi, Rana, Mara

October 7, 2020


  1. REPLY
    Alana says

    I assure you I’m as happy as Bambi about the new herd dynamics. I bet Madison will be a different elephant when she arrives. I think space makes a big difference in their attitude.

  2. REPLY
    Julie says

    Once again it’s great to check in and read an in depth analysis from the experts. I appreciate your spirits. God bless ?❤️.

  3. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Its wonderful to watch the ever changing evolving life of these happy free ladies and if its possible we would love to hear more sweet rumbles and beautiful trumpets from our girls it really warms our hearts ? ? ?

  4. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    I hope Lady is hearing all this and wants to join soon!

  5. REPLY
    Barb C says

    I am so happy to see the herd dynamics for these three girls and Lady is watching hopefully she will join the herd ???? So Happy for all of them.

  6. REPLY
    Renee' Killian-Zeiger says

    JOY, JOY, JOY! ?????????? Now…since I have a tremendous love for Lady….could we get an update, and of course NOT to leave out Miss Marvelous Maia! Thanks loads and I know I’m as infatuated as is everyone else your posts and updates about the new girl on the block! You guys are beyond AMAZING to keep all of us Elephant ? Nerds so updated and informed with all your years of knowledge and expertise! ???

    • REPLY
      Maria Villa says

      I too am a Devotee of Lady-Bug. Love each one with red-hot passion, although Lady-Bu moves my heart & mind in powerful waves of different emotions, including vomiting when I looked and saw the pictures of her feet condition, and realized that there were actually human beings who did not do all in their power to get her to sanctuary , thank Heavens for GES. I like to watch her videos and speak out good words of healing, peace, long-life over her Precious Being, these are like, “positive prayers, ” or “praying the answer.” I am so thankful she has all her Devoted Guardians along side her from here on out!

  7. REPLY
    Elaine K Decker says

    With Bambi I am reminded of the youngest child in a family-funny, energetic, mischievous and adored. (I was the youngest and the only girl and I was really good at bouncing my ringlets and being VERY busy.) I so look forward to each one of your posts and videos.?

  8. REPLY
    Sunny says

    Oh My God 😮 ! The herd is growing so unexpectedly fast! I’m so pleased XD. I have a question: what do you mean when you say that Mara struggles with insecurity and lack of confidence? What kind of insecurity?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      She just doesn’t have much confidence. When it comes to both human and elephant interactions she is a little unsure and is usually a bit submissive. You can often tell she is curious but doesn’t have the belief in herself to approach how she might want to.

      • Sunny says

        Thanks for answering, Kat 🙂

  9. REPLY
    Alejandra(Sandy)Enquin says

    Ser una elefanta como.Rana y Mara es admirable,son tan generosas y buenas de compartir esa sagrada Amistad que tienen pues es un vinculo muy fuerte de solidaridad amor y compañerismo.Abrirse a Bambi y demostrarle cariño y decirle con los errr y las trompetas” sos parte nuestra “es Maravilloso??‼️y se ve que Mara congenia con Bambi son muy parecidas en su energia loquita y alegre,aunque Bambi este pasada de revolucione pobrecita porque recien ahora conoce la Felicidad!! Y puede demostrarlo!! ???????

  10. REPLY
    Wim says

    This must be the privilege of second chances. They have the freedom and the luxury to move and connect in every which way they want or feel. Like you’ve explained so beautiful and powerful. They are a very unusual but extra brilliantly shining herd. Let them make their moves in peace and calmness.
    They are wonderful traumatized ladies in a place they’ve never imagined l presume. How marvelous there’s a little bit of paradise on earth for all of them.???????

  11. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Yes, it is a beautiful thing to watch Bambi full of emotional excitement!!! I am so emotionally happy myself for you all at GSE and for the elephants to have such a beautiful sanctuary with loving and caring caretakers!!
    Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!❤️❤️❤️?

  12. REPLY
    Linda says

    This is wonderful to see and hear about, thank you!
    Do you see Bambi putting any of her weight back on yet? I know its been a short time but her diet has been the best in probably years so was wondering if it is showing at all.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      It looks like there have been some positive changes, but we will track her weight monthly to see definitively.

  13. REPLY
    Maria Villa says

    Amazing. I am a Devotee to the Herd, past, present and future members. I am glad you touched on the fact that there is sadness we are confronted with, but we dont dwell on it, rather it spurs us on do to everything possible to bring every captive Elephant into Sanctuary… asap. XXOO

  14. REPLY
    Ercilia Garcia says

    Where is Maia in all this. Maia was the first to greet Bambi; doesn’t she want to be in the yard too?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Maia seemed to lose interest in Bambi very quickly, but Bambi doesn’t have great boundaries right now and is going to prove to be a bit much for many elephants. Maia had been in yard 5 for a little bit, but is out by the pond in 4 currently. She spent time in the same yard with Rana and Mara, but not when they were with Bambi. We try to make sure everyone has the time they need.

  15. REPLY
    CD says

    It is poignant to see Bambi so overjoyed that she doesn’t know how to contain herself. The painful loneliness she has felt for decades. The suffering they all endured for decades- it’s miraculous they are as mentally healthy as they are. Lady, the sweet careful soul – the suffering she has experienced. But, she is in sanctuary and safe. At least she has that – even if she sadly does not become buddies with the others. At least she is safe and loved. I cry every time I think of her and what must go through her precious head – trying her best to live a fulfilled life. Thank you always for the details on their lives and growth.

  16. REPLY
    Jennifer says

    Bambi is such a different animal now she’s found freedom and herd partners! I’m loving getting to watch her transformation! But ~ I’m curious how Lady is doing.

  17. REPLY
    maria villa says

    Lady-Bg. I was looking at her wish-list, there are 27 items on it…..she requires a lot of intensive foot care. I pray that those who are able to, buy her wishlist items, and more.

  18. REPLY
    arie says

    Yes, it is a beautiful and at the same time sad Bambi-saga, she finding love and friendship after being denied part of a herd for decades.

    There are no words to describe how happy I am now for her and the girls.

    Thank you for sharing their story ?❤️

  19. REPLY
    Sallie says

    I am so thrilled for Bambi, especially being a kinetic force to draw all the girls together. So adorable! Each will have a favorite, that’s how us girls work . . . Looking forward to seeing all their interactions! LOVE IT!

  20. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    What beautiful souls they are! The outpouring of Bambi’s emotions are tolerated well by Rana and Mara…an understanding maybe of what Bambi has been through. They have walked that path, too. Each one emotionally challenged but accepting of the other. It is so heartwarming to watch this friendship develop.. Sanctuary has given Bambi release so that her spirit can be free. She doesn’t quite know how to control it yet, bless her,….it’s bewitching and gorgeous and poignant!

  21. REPLY
    Elke Pattyn says

    It is amazing rto see these girls forming a herd. You can read jiw happy Bambi is. What you did for these magnificent creatures is simply wonderful.
    Thank you ?

  22. REPLY
    Carey says

    Very much appreciate the in depth look at evolving dynamics, ? thank you.

  23. REPLY

    It’s wonderful & fascinating to have an inside look @ these BEAUTIFUL, sweet souls. Thanks for keeping us all in the loop. Every day I look for what treasure will be posted here about these Golden Girls. I wonder what all their little & not so little noises are. Makes me wander what they say to each other. Are Lady’s feet hurting her too much to join in? Or is she just not as social as the rest of them are? And Maia? She was the fist girl to meet Bambi. Where is she now? Again, thank you so much for keeping all of us fans in the loop in these amazing creatures. I can’t get enough!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Lady’s right front foot is a little sore right now, but it’s not what determines her socialization. Bambi is fast, doesn’t really have boundaries or social etiquette. She is too much for Lady at this time. Yesterday’s video showed her watching the three from a distance, but that’s as close as she chooses to get at this point. Maia lost interest very quickly, but that has been her MO since Guida’s passing. She was in yard 5 for a while, then went out by the pond in 4.

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