|Mae Bua Tong and Faa Mai were close by and so excited about the birth of Chang Yim that Mae Bua Tong broke the fence so the two of them could come closer to welcome in the little bull calf. Dok Ngern, who has been auntie to Faa Mai since she was born and sleeping in their shelter every night until her own birth was close, initially wasn’t interested in sharing her private bundle of joy and pulled Chang Yim away from Mae Bua Tong and Faa Mai. It was as if she couldn’t believe that this baby was really her very own and wanted to keep him all to herself. This attitude lasted a few days, but soon Malai Tong moved in and became auntie to Chang Yim and spent all of her time with new mom and baby, even sleeping in the shelter. In no time at all Chang Yim was nursing from Malai Tong as well as Dok Ngern, who can now graduate to “Mae” Dok Ngern as she has officially entered motherhood. Chang Yim and Mae Dok Ngern didn’t spend as much time confined to the shelter as Faa Mai and Mae Bua Tong did (but there was no big sister still wanting to nurse from mama, which made things much easier). Chang Yim took his first trip to the river approximately one month after he was born and soon after that joined Faa Mai’s family group on daily outings. They quickly became an extended family group, as the two little ones are often inseparable and are so confident and outgoing that both of them spend lots of time away from their mothers exploring on their own, or in the company of their protective aunties. Even Faa Mai’s big sisters, Tong Jan and Faa Sai, enjoy looking after the little ones. Chang Yim loves Malai Tong so much that he sometimes runs to her more often than his own mother, Dok Ngern. Now that “Mae” Dok Ngern has gotten over her initial over-protectiveness and possessiveness, she has become so comfortable with others caring for Chang Yim that she could very well become our new “part-time mother.” Dok Ngern did spend a lot of time with Mae Boon (who was our other well-known part-time mom) and her daughter Aura, being a big sister auntie for Aura, and Mae Boon was definitely one of Dok Ngern’s role models.Dok Ngern has also been lucky enough to spend her last 3½ years in the happy, healthy, elephant family atmosphere at Elephant Nature Park where there were many aunties who shared the job of caring for the babies. As a result of this Mae Dok Ngern is confident that her young one will be taken care of, even if she decides to wander off on her own for awhile, which she now often does! As for Chang Yim, he is already showing us that he has a naughty streak. On many an afternoon when the day visitors get to experience the eles “up close,” he will run up from behind and give an unsuspecting visitor a “ride” on his forehead as he playfully head-butts them from behind. Of course this kind of behavior is not encouraged as we want him to grow up to be a well-mannered elephant.
If all goes as planned, hopefully by the time Chang Yim is the age of his mother, Dok Ngern, he can go to live at the New Haven where he won’t have much interaction with humans at all. But in the meantime, he has to learn basic commands so that he can be controlled and safely interact with Park staff and guests. This he will learn through positive reinforcement training which is already being practiced.