There She Is!

Earlier this week, Maia, Mara, and Rana were in Yard 1 while Lady was in Yard 2. Kat and Scott headed up to their house to eat lunch. As they left, Maia tried to walk between Rana and Mara. Everyone got a little loud and silly, but it calmed down as Kat and Scott left the area.

As Scott & Kat sat down to lunch, they started hearing some noises from the valley. Once they heard the sounds for the third time in about a minute, they decided to go down and check, although caregiver Shirlei was still at the barn. The girls were all fine when she saw them, Maia was heading towards Middle Road, and the other two were still by the square.

Kat arrived at Maia, who was by herself, happily walking down Middle Road. She gave her a look as if to say, “I don’t know what’s going on.”  Around the corner, Scott discovered an anxious Rana & Mara, separated by a fence. It seems that in all of the commotion, they had accidentally gone into different yards and were surprised to find a fence between them.

Maia, Rana, and Mara had all left Yard 1 by the square. The square is a little area that connects Yard 1, 2, 4 & 5. Once you leave one by the square, if you go straight, you’re in Yard 5; and if you go slightly to the right, you are in Yard 4. Two steps are all it takes, and you’re in a different yard. Our best guess is that one followed the vocalizations of the other, but chose the wrong side of the 4/5 fence. Rana ended up in Yard 5, and Mara was in Yard 4.

It’s worth noting that most captive elephants don’t have the degree of problem-solving capabilities their wild counterparts do, especially when they first arrive at the sanctuary. It’s not that they aren’t as intelligent. In captivity, they rarely encounter challenges that require them to have to think much. Lack of variation, choice, and different results allow that part of their brain to go somewhat unused. It is one of the first changes we see in them after they arrive.

It appears that once Rana and Mara found themselves in different yards, their first reaction was to express their emotions vocally. They comforted each other by staying close. While it didn’t directly solve the problem, it did indirectly- since it brought their humans running to help.

The girls weren’t very far from the gate, so the fastest way to solve the problem was to have someone follow them back a little way and through the gate. Rana was the best choice since she’s more motivated by food than Mara, at least when it comes to walking away from her friend. With a few bananas, Rana started to follow straight away, which caused Mara to follow along as well. Once they started moving, it just took a few seconds for them to “reunite.” Although their separation time was probably about 5 minutes, and they were touching for most of that time, getting back together was reason enough to celebrate.

Here’s a short video – Mara is doing most of the vocalizing. In the first clip, Mara is on this side of the fence, and Rana is on the other (while Scott waited for banana arrival). In the second video, Rana is already in the Yard, and Mara walks through the gate.

June 3, 2020

Asian habitat graphic map


  1. REPLY
    Juan Camilo Echeverri says

    I submit that everyone (and I mean everyone) in the United States would be better off taking 5 minutes a day to check on these elephants. It’s like medicine.

    • REPLY
      Elaine Decker says

      These posts make my day every day. To have such love for another is the greatest thing on earth.

    • REPLY
      Marilyn Wissel says

      This cheered me up and made my nightmare go away. I am thankful for all you are doing to give these Elephants freedom. Never to be abused again. It is tough to over come abuse. Love and prayers to all of you. When I have another donation your Sanctuary will receive it. I donate to Fateh Fateh Singh who feeds starving humans and Animals. My funds are low. I need to find a way to make something I can sell and forward the money to you. Thank you for loving kindness to these precious Elephants who have suffered so much.

      Do you ever take volunteers to come and clean the area? I love to stay in Cades Cove. Because I am disability does not mean I have nothing to give. I have love. I can find things to do if just given the chance. I have a family who lives in Maryville, TN. I am sure that it is pretty close to the Sanctuary.

      I want to help. I hope you can find something for me to do.

      Warmest regards…….

      • Kat Blais says

        Hi Marilyn,

        We don’t have a volunteer program set up yet, although we plan to have one in the future. Our sanctuary is located in Brazil though. Our home offices are in Tennessee, but us and the elephants live in the middle of nowhere Brazil. A bit farther than you initially thought. 😉

  2. REPLY
    Paula says

    Ellas simplemente se adoran!!!?
    Es conmovedor verlas como se cuidan, se miman, se consuelan, se acompañan ,se preocupan mutuamente … y más ????

  3. REPLY
    Susan says

    I love how they were so happy all over again when they were finally back together!!!!! Friends and Sisters! ❤️?❤️?❤️?❤️?❤️?????

  4. REPLY
    Sherry says

    They lost their way, but found each other again! They really don’t want to lose sight of each other ever again in their life times!
    What a wonderful feeling to be together with the one you love!!!!!!❤️???

  5. REPLY
    Elaine Tselikis says

    Very dear!! So beautiful.

  6. REPLY
    Barb says

    Precious and even a bit sad to see them trying to “get to each other”. All is well that ends well. Bless their sweet ele hearts.

  7. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Oh bless their hearts. They remind me of young twins getting anxious when separated. They’re so cute!

  8. REPLY
    Julie says

    So happy they have each other and that they have this opportunity to get close to and feel that strongly about a sister elephant. Thank you for this ?❤️

  9. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    I start my day by a virtual visit to ESB. It kicks my day off to a good start. I then “dip” in at various times of the day just because it brings me closer to the wonderful world of giving and sharing and coming together for the greater good.
    This video filled my heart with happiness. Mara so needed other ellie contact after too long on her own. Rana has found another friend after the loss of her beloved Ramba. Happiness indeed.

  10. REPLY
    Rachel says

    It’s one thing to read a beautifully written post, but wow, seeing how they reacted in a video tugged hard at my heart strings. I felt for Mara – she’s dealing with adjusting to a new life with a much needed friend and trusting that no human will separate them must be tough. Her vocalizations tear me apart. Rana’s trumpets are so confident and soothing to her I’m sure. Thanks for delaying your lunch to help these gals out – they’re so fortunate to be together at the sanctuary.

  11. REPLY
    Lane says

    It took me reviewing this story and video in my head before falling asleep last night to understand what really was happening. I thought the gate had been closed after Mara and Rana entered different yards but it was open the entire time. They had each just walked farther down the fence line. Such an interesting situation to explain to us. Thanks for the insight!

  12. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    So sweet that they are connected to each other in this short time. Those vocals are amazing, As always Thank you for the detailed explanation!?♥️

  13. REPLY
    Lila Nieto says

    Sweet girls!!! I love these posts, love their “problems”, this is a cuteness overload. And yes, this is my happy place!!! Love from Mexico!!! Thanks for keeping us posted of every little thing that happens around there!!!

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