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By: The Elephant Sanctuary

Sissy is Introduced to Herd-Mates over Fence Line

In July, the decision was made to move Sissy from Asia Habitat to Quarantine Habitat, which was specifically established for the management, care, and enrichment of elephants in treatment for tuberculosis.

To allow Sissy time to adjust to her new surroundings, she was separated from the other elephants by a series of fences and buffer zones—however, the elephants were still able to communicate by sight, smell, and sound. Within Sissy’s first hour in her new habitat, Ronnie and Debbie walked over to one side of the buffer zone to periscope the air with their trunks and offer their greetings.

Just last week, Sissy shared a fence line with Debbie, Minnie, and Ronnie for the first time.

Slow introductions allow non-related elephants to grow comfortable with one another in their own time, with the added security that a barrier allows. In this first tactile meeting, Minnie greeted Sissy by placing her trunk on Sissy’s head and rubbing her back, and soon the two touched trunks. Debbie and Ronnie took notice and walked over to the fence line as well. Sissy then approached Debbie and Ronnie, and the three felt one another with their trunks over the fenceline—Ronnie, true to form, being the most tactile of the three.

Since these introductions, it has been common to see Sissy standing by the other elephants at the fence line. Even though they have acres and acres of space to roam, they have been choosing to stand and graze together.

Billie, known to be a timid and fearful elephant was showing interest in Sissy from afar, standing on the top of a hill at a safe distance to observe the newcomer. The first time the two were given the opportunity to meet, Billie squeaked, a sound she makes when she's afraid, and walked away. By the third fence line sharing attempt, and with encouragement from Caregivers, Billie finally made the first move and approached Sissy. Sissy stood still as Billie slowly approached her and cautiously put her trunk out towards Sissy. Eventually Sissy stepped close enough for the two to touch for the first time. Billie touched all around Sissy’s face and they even touched the ends of their trunks together. A few times, Billie stepped back, but she always went back to Sissy to touch her again. Caregivers are looking forward to future fence line sharing with Billie, Minnie, Debbie, and Ronnie and Sissy and look forward to the day when Sissy begins to share the same space with her habitat-mates. 

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