Mintra and Yin Dee Finally Roam Free
Mintra can’t wipe the smile off her face these days … she has a good friend by her side, a bundle of joy at her breast and a loyal old fuss budget hovering in the background. But what makes her smile the most is that she is enjoying the company of those most dearest to her while grazing peacefully, feeling the grass underfoot and the sun shining on her back. She can have a roll in the mud when she wishes and has a companion to rub against when needed. Finally, after six weeks in the security of the shelter, Mintra and Yin Dee are free to roam at will at Elephant Nature Park!
For safety’s sake, we kept Mintra and her calf inside of a chain-free shelter for the first month. Though baby elephants are quite sturdy, they are also rather fragile. This period in the shelter gave Mintra time to settle into her mother role and Yin Dee time to get his balance, become adept at breast feeding and begin to thrive. Usually there is an enthusiastic auntie (or two) at the rail, clamoring to get a trunkful of that fresh new baby elephant scent and take on the ever so important job of nanny straight away … but …
Mae Jampaa, Mintra’s best friend, is NOT your typical female elephant.
In most cases, the companion of a pregnant elephant IS excitedly awaiting the opportunity to nurture the new born calf, almost as much as the mother-to-be. In this case, Mae Jampaa seems to be a bit wary of the new arrival and even jealous. At first, Jampaa became agitated when Yin Dee wandered near to her, putting her head down in a threatening gesture. Jampaa seemed to feel that Yin Dee was a threat to her relationship with her beloved Mintra. The weeks passed and we continued to observe, but Mae Jampaa did not appear to be taking any maternal interest in little Yin Dee.
Since the passing of Mae Dta Keow, Mintra’s first best friend, Mae Jampaa has had the irresistable Mintra all to herself and was quite content with this arrangement. She conveniently ignored Mintra’s growing breasts and bulging belly as the months before birth passed.
What to do???? A new mother needs the auntie more so than the baby. The auntie helps to babysit and protect. The auntie (or nanny) stands guard so that the new mom can get her much needed sleep in the depths of night. If Mae Jampaa did not accept Yin Dee, how could we manage? Who else could we bring in to become nanny? There are only three other elephants whom Mae Jampaa tolerates — Sao Yai, Faa Sai and Malai Tong — all of whom have existing friend or family commitments.
Enter Malai Tong
Really, she had been there all along, spending as much time as possible in the shelter next door (which happens to be Jarunee and her sleeping space each evening) when not accompanying Mae Jarunee. If Malai Tong had a business card it would look like this:
After a month had came and went, we were still unsure of Mae Jampaa’s reliability, but Mintra was restless; she was tired of being cooped up in the shelter and was ready for the great outdoors. Finally, at week six we opened the shelter door. At last they could walk out if they wished … but they didn’t.
Malai Tong was called over and entered immediately. Mintra was so happy to really touch her without bars in between. She rubbed against her friend’s body getting a much needed scratch. She pressed her face up against Malai Tong’s, their upturned trunks entwined. Yin Dee excitedly rushed around under their bellies and in between their legs. He soon began to reach for Malai Tong’s breasts. Jampaa was allowed in as well but quickly became overwhelmed by the excitement. When Yin Dee got too close, she acted as if whe wanted to hit him once again … and then …
Super Nanny to the rescue!!!
Malai Tong ever alert, quickly intervened. She gave Mae Jampaa a talking to and put her in her place. Mae Jampaa was immediately ushered out and away by her mahout. A few minutes later, Malai Tong moved towards the door. Mintra followed but stopped short when Malai Tong went out. Mintra was worried about Yin Dee and he seemed hesitant to step over the drain. As impatient as Mintra was to get out, now that the opportunity was there she did not take it. This was late in the afternoon. Soon it was time for all of the elephants to return to their shelters for the night. Tomorrow was another day.
The next day Malai Tong went in right away and seemed to give Mintra and Yin Dee an encouraging pep talk. Probably something like this: “Take your time and come out when you are ready. But remember, you are going to be glad that you did! There is a mud pit calling you and I will be right by your side.”
This seemed to work. Soon, the trio were on the move and out the door! They settled in a quiet corner up in the front field. And yes, they did eventually get to the mud pit! Mae Jampaa joined them but hung back a bit.
The rest is history … by the end of the day, Mintra did not want to go back to the shelter, so exuberant was she to be out in nature once again. They rested well that evening and began their new routine the next day.
Mae Jampaa is still hesitant, but seems to be much more tolerant when out in the field. Yin Dee is becoming more confident with each passing day, but for the most part he stays in between Mintra and ‘Super Nanny’ Malai Tong, seeking shade, comfort and protection. With time, Yin Dee will become more and more curious about that older hesitant auntie who hovers in the background. Like all curious babies he will eventually wander over to her and reach up to suckle her breast. At that point, we hope Mae Jampaa’s heart will melt, her maternal side will kick in and she will fully embrace the love of Yin Dee.
A happy ending??? Almost. After Yin Dee, Mae Jampaa (hopefully softened by the little bull) will have to work on accepting Mae Jarunee, who is waiting patiently on the sidelines while her best friend, Malai Tong, works her magic.