At 3:45 p.m. we are invited to participate at the baby elephants 4 p.m. feeding so we head over to the open elephant shelter where the babies and mother eat (and eventually sleep). We are excited for this because of the chance to finally get close to them. We go to Mae Bua Tong (mother), Tong Jan (6 year old daughter) and Faa Mai (21 month old baby girl) shelter. Momma hangs back to let the her two eat, something that warms my heart as this is the second time today I see the mother tend to her kids (and nephew earlier) first. In fact she never goes to eat while we are there, and elephants LOVE food. She is an alert, caring and gentle mother.
The mahouts for these three eles give us two huge baskets of fruit, loaded with bananas, watermelon and cucumber (I know, not a fruit). Little Faa Mai hustles over quickly to the food and noses her little sweet trunk with a sense of urgency. She does not have the same grace that her mother and older sister have when they eat and I find this playfully adorable. I am cooing with delight. Here is Faa Mai:
She is like a fussy infant and only wants to eat the bananas, peeled if you please. When someone would give her a piece of watermelon or cucumber, she would take it in her trunk and then toss it to the ground by her feet. I think she ate about 20 bananas! It's okay Faa Mai, I like bananas too! :) Sabine was able to get these photographs...
When she was finished with her bananas, I looked down for second (still squatting by her) and I felt something pulling from my shoulder. Faa Mai had grabbed my water bottle in my side sling and was trying to take it. For a teeny tiny trunk, she is very strong, and as much as I wouldn't have minded her playing with it, I had to pull it back (just not a good habit to get into, you know?). When I did get it back, she looked at me like she thought maybe I would continue to play tug of war with her. It took every ounce if restraint to not reach in and hug her, but I know I have to respect the rules of mother and baby.