From Ingo: Meditations On An Elephant Rescue

Though Ingo has worked with elephants for decades, his transport of Pocha and Guillermina from Mendoza to Brazil was his first with Global Sanctuary for Elephants. For that reason, we asked him to share some of his thoughts about the experience – what it was like, how he felt, and what he took away from it on a personal level:

“It is somewhat sad to think about, but also one of the best parts of the experience was that after all these years of waiting and struggling, after all these efforts (for the girls, probably even more than for us), a huge change for the girls finally became true. Their ‘living space’ back at the zoo (turned ecoparque) can be stated as one of the smallest, coldest, and most elephant-unfriendly ones worldwide and, fortunately, is something of the past now as well. It was not only (and urgently) about time, but also more than fair to give them a chance for something new, a place where an elephant – after decades of extreme confinement – can finally act out all of its natural behaviors and needs.

This rescue has been the first of its kind for me, regarding the amount of people involved in and accompanying the transport. Some people didn’t know each other and met during the process – but definitely it was teamwork at its best.

It was a long trip and sleepless nights, but the girls did well. We never know how elephants react on transports in general – if there might come an emergency situation or something similar. This is why some of us have been – let’s call it – ‘positively nervous’ during the entire trip. The same type of nervous (while attentive and carefully observing) that can keep you from sleeping, but feeling good at the same time. We found it wonderful that it was technically possible to place both crates on one truck, enabling the girls to communicate with each other during the entire trip. But like the girls, the team did great as well, with lots of respect towards the elephants and each other, empathy, active support from each individual, the happiness, good moods and vibrations and, above all this, specific dedication. We had lots of things to do and we always expect the unexpected. There were some headaches, but also lots of fun and stupid jokes – the kind that happen when you’re really tired. 

I am especially proud of this team and happy for this transfer because ego and narcissism did not take the lead- it was truly about the elephants. Thus I am even more happy as the entire process of Pocha and Guillermina’s transfer happened to be smooth, and the final destination is true sanctuary. I know that the girls finally get their chance to live as free as possible under natural conditions and within a vast environment, learning autonomy, and socializing with lots of others from the same species.

It was one of these unforgettable moments after arrival, when the girls had been united again after coming out of their transport crates, watching them splashing sand on their bodies continuously, without us saying not one word – just observing and without interacting. Just letting them be elephants.”


  1. REPLY
    Wim says

    Beautiful reflections of fantastic journey.
    Must be extraordinary to really bring elephants back to nature.
    Thank you Ingo, sincerely.

  2. REPLY
    Susy says

    Que linda experiencia. Gracias por haber logrado que la vida de dos seres, que tienen su derecho a una vida diga y en libertad estén hoy disfrutando cada amanecer, cada cielo y atardecer.

  3. REPLY
    Heidi says

    This is truly wonderful. I love hearing your thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing this and for all the work you do for the elephants, Ingo!

  4. REPLY
    Camilla Carter says

    What a incredible experience to be a part of. We can never thank all of those that made it possible enough. One elephant(or two) at a time .❤🐘🐘❤

  5. REPLY
    Constance S. Harris says

    Thank you

  6. REPLY
    Marta says

    Felicitaciones por el gran trabajo que realiza. Están trabajando aplicando una política de reparación para tantas décadas de esclavitud y confinamiento de cada una de las elefantas rescatadas. Eso se agradece.

  7. REPLY
    Jillyp says

    Thank you Ingo, it’s wonderful to read your reflections of such an incredible experience to help bring these beautiful eles the life they deserve, that they should always have had. They are remarkable eles, appearing quite upbeat and silly together, perhaps being the two for so long is how they managed to overcome depression in the awful pit. Thank you for, like you say, just letting them be elephants 🧡🌳🐘🐘

  8. REPLY
    Nicole says

    What a wonderful sentiment, Ingo. These girls were truly blessed to have you and the amazing team!

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    Deb Moore says

    enjoyed that. hoping there are plans to rescue the remaining now LONE elephant from the same park. cannot get him off my mind. the girls are so adorable.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      There are plans to rescue Tamy – and also Kenya, the African elephant at the Mendoza Ecoparque. However, Tamy has a lot of training behaviors to learn and a lot of trust to build up with caregivers. It won’t be a quick and easy process, but we are committed to making it happen.

  10. REPLY
    Alice says

    Words cannot express the gratitude I have for you, Ingo, Scott, and all the team that made this incredible journey. I lost sleep that week, too, worried about P & G and all of you. The people at GSE never cease to amaze me! How wonderful it is for the girls to finally be at their deserving, forever home. I would like to know if this journey was longer than the one Scott made with the Toronto elephants.
    Thank you again for all that you do!!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      This trip was about 400 miles shorter, but one day longer because Argentina and Brazil don’t have the same type of interstates that exist in the US.

  11. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    Thank you Ingo for sharing your thoughts and experience. Needless to say, thousands of advocates have followed Pocha and Guillermina for several years hoping for the moment you described. When they walked into the sand, and immediately started dusting, trumpeting, barking and spinning around. after living behind rock walls in a tunnel like zoo, what a magical sight, and one I will not forget. Thank you for being a part of this rescue, and providing expertise to GSE.

  12. REPLY
    Barb says

    Bravo! Thanks for sharing!

  13. REPLY
    Suzanne Eaton says

    Beautifully said, Ingo. You are a Rock Star with elephants and hope you will come back to Brazil for more rescues

  14. REPLY
    Adriana says

    Gracias por transmitirlo de una forma tan especial, llore con cada video de ese viaje a la libertad de Pocha y Guillermina.

  15. REPLY
    Cher says

    Aww, thank you for sharing your memories with us. I absolutely adore GSE, Scott & his team.
    Pocha & Gille have stolen my heart.
    What a journey it has been.
    Onward & upward to the next rescue♥️🐘🐘

  16. REPLY
    Carol Diehl says

    Thank you for sharing this complex experience. We’re all so grateful for the many people that made this long overdue urgent rescue possible. I am proud to be a small part of the amazing rescues

  17. REPLY
    Anita J says

    Ingo is such an amazing, beautiful person. His work and presence with girls in Mendoza was crucial towards the success of this historical transfer. We were so lucky to have Him with us. Beautiful reflections about the journey. One for the books…:-)))

  18. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    I was wondering how do the Elephants go potty when their being transported like that and do they eat less because they’re nervous or more

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      As for eating, most elephants eat well during transport, although some eat a little less, which is normal. As far as going to the bathroom, the floor has holes to drain their urine and the feces falls behind them. the crates are designed so that you can open the back outer door, while the elephant remains contained, allowing you to sweep out any dung or anything else that ends up behind them. So at the stops, they do a quick sweep to keep things clean.

  19. REPLY
    Carey says

    Many thanks Ingo, and for all the work you did being the bridge linking “gringos” and Argentinians on a mission. Inspirational and humbling.

  20. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Just beautiful Ingo, thank you very much 💞

  21. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Ingo, your story raised all sorts of emotions in me. Suffice it to say that people like you and GSE founders and staff lifts my spirit and fills me with enormous gratitude. Yes – there are plenty of good, unselfish folks out there – and this rescue was a beautiful example of that. Thank you from the deepest crevices of my heart. 💝

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