Building Relationships Through Protected Contact

Most of you know that we use protected contact when working with the elephants here at sanctuary. That is done for their protection and for ours – but we want the elephants to feel as free from human expectations as possible; that can mean physical separation. We enjoy sharing videos of the girls that show their faces, expressions, and individualities. Sometimes that means that fencing is in the frame during those videos. 

But fencing doesn’t stop relationships from growing. When individuals connect and have an honest bond, a fence or a gate isn’t a barrier for exchange of communication. Relationships can grow in a protected contact environment, as you have seen and can see here. 

P.S.: Here, the girls were eating along the fence line where the training walls are, which means the horizontal bars are closer than they would be with normal fencing. The video starts with Guillermina, who walks behind Mara, then Maia (who is watching to make sure Guille doesn’t take any of her hay). Guille positions herself between those ladies and Rana and Pocha. When the camera pans to the right, you can see Bambi standing on the end.


  1. REPLY
    Pam says

    What an incredible video — not only to see all six of these girls together, but to be able to see their eyes and faces and skin close-up, plus being able to hear their breathing, their ears flapping, their vocalizations, their chewing … ALMOST as good as being there. It’s also a great exercise in identifying each one (thank you for the help!).

  2. REPLY
    Rand says

    Fun to watch them get along

  3. REPLY
    Julie says

    This video is priceless. I can imagine I see a little mischievous spark in Guille’s eyes, then Maia’s bulging eye making sure she’s not a victim of hay-theft. Lol….so good! I also imagine if these girls let themselves they can feel so squishy and happy and natural to be in a great big herd!

  4. REPLY
    Christen says

    I look forward to these emails, they are the highlight of every single day. Thank you for making us part of the family.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      thank you ❤️

  5. REPLY
    Wim says

    Wonderful moments with the jewel Ladies.

  6. REPLY
    Beji says

    I just want to smoosh their pretty faces!!!

  7. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    Thank you for identifying each girl. I absolutely love these close ups, seeing the girls so peaceful standing and eating together. They have become a family, and it makes my heart sing with happiness for them. They deserve this autonomy from humans. Afterall it was humans that took decades of freedom and their youth from them. Once again, thank you GSE. I’m happy to support you.

  8. REPLY
    Beci says

    I am wondering what the big lump behind the left ear of the elephant on the left 2nd to last. She is facing the side of the last elephant on the left? I haven’t seen that lump on any of the others. From my ioad it looks a little bigger the a baseball.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      you can see it on several of the elephants in different videos. but it has to be when their ear is forward, and they are chewing. it isn’t often seen in captive elephants, unless they are at sanctuary, due to their natural diet. it’s believed to be a muscle that is related to their salivary gland. it is not a bad things. 🙂

  9. REPLY
    Carey says


Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.