Trunk Tales: Maya, and Her Precious Friendships!

February 27, 2024 | By Tushti Sharma
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Maya’s past remains to be a continuous reminder of the daily torture many innocent pachyderms have faced over numerous years. Despite the brutality shown to her, Maya has shown tremendous resilience ever since she arrived at Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC) nearly 14 years ago. She had been a circus elephant, forced to stand on one leg and made to “dance”, with lashes of a stick pushing her to do so. Cruel confinement in captivity led to arthritis in her limbs, and sheer neglect of her overall upkeep resulted in a weakness in her body. Maya had spent rough years entertaining audiences — she was in desperate need of medical intervention. Prominent attention was therefore immediately given to each of Maya’s difficulties at ECCC, which allowed the pachyderm to establish faith in humane care.  

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Nikhil Bisht] 

Now, the 49-year-old greets every morning with appealing joy as her caregiver brings her a basket full of freshly cut bananas, papayas and of course, watermelons. His affectionate gestures have created a lovely bond between the two. Maya’s confidence in him has helped her respond well to her daily routine, one of which is the medicated pedicure to heal, clean and provide relief from discomfort on her foot pads. Alert to her everyday needs, Maya’s caregiver consistently updates the medical team. Maya receives multivitamins and mineral supplements so that her health and well-being continue to remain on an upward track. 

Maya (R) with Phoolkali (L) [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak] 

Maya has a wonderful companionship with Phoolkali, who was earlier a begging elephant. Sharing the same enclosure with her, the pair of best friends caress their trunks on each other’s faces with affection, which makes for a delightful watch! Maya finds great comfort in being beside Phoolkali, and the two pachyderms act as pillars of support for one another. Their sisterhood is a reiteration of how lifelong ties can help our gentle giants overcome the psychological trauma that they were suffering from. 

Maya and Phoolkali with Emma. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Nikhil Bisht] 

Along with Phoolkali, Maya also shares her field, and friendship, with Emma, who was earlier a processional elephant paraded through the streets. The trio can be seen together during all enthusiastic activities of their day! They fondly accompany each other for their long daily walks along Yamuna river, where Maya takes the lead as an effective guide. Whenever she notices her companions pause on the route for way too long, Maya lets out loud trumpets that usher them to move! The three are also in proximity to one another during target training sessions. The presence of her friends, along with the tasty treats offered to her, has Maya cooperate excellently with the diligent caregiving team. 

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak] 

The cheerful pachyderm looks forward to taking cooling baths in her pool and fun-filled mud baths during summers. However, in winters, Maya can be seen snuggling within the warming blankets her caregivers cover her with! The winter management protocol at ECCC also includes halogen lights and tarpaulin sheets in her enclosure that help Maya remain cosy. Not only her surroundings, the team and caregivers also vigilantly formulate and monitor the diet plans for each elephant so that their nutritional needs are met every season. Maya relishes the cooked concentrate of millets that she receives, which in cold weather also includes heat producing ingredients and jaggery. 

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak] 

Maya has a liking for playing with the enrichments such as hanging haynets and rolling drums. She also wholeheartedly engages with the cage feeders and pipe feeders that are spread across her field. All these are given special attention by her due to the delicious snacks that they contain! Maya stretches and manoeuvres her trunk to pull out seasonal fodder, fresh vegetables and juicy fruits that are stuffed within each enrichment. This effort is highly rewarding for Maya, and keeps her active and engrossed for long hours in the day!  

[Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak] 

Maya’s playful spirit is boosted by her steadfast comrades and their shared compassion. The watchful eye of our medical staff and the dedicated care of her caregiver has been able to revive Maya’s vitality and retain her will to heal. If you wish to contribute towards mighty Maya’s welfare, consider becoming a sponsor.    

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