From Nicole: My Approach to Guillermina

In today’s post, contract caregiver Nicole talks about enhancing her understanding of the process of being open to what elephants are trying to say and also adjusting her behavior to communicate what she needs. It’s a nuanced process and one that she seems very excited to fully grasp. 

From Nicole:

“Scott had mentioned when I arrived on this trip that one of his goals for me was to work on being more open with the elephants. For example, telling them when I was uncomfortable with something and explaining what I needed to become more trusting and comfortable with them. 

I began training with Guille, and between her youngster energy and the fact that her facial features reminded me of an elephant I worked with that had a not-so-soft demeanor we’ll say, I went into the training session with some hesitation. Guille had a tendency to not extend her trunk out very far to take food, and I just wasn’t comfortable enough yet with her to get that close. Several times I asked for her trunk further out, and eventually she would awkwardly reach out and get the food. This back and forth continued the rest of the session. 

During the next session, she did the same thing with not extending her trunk out very far, so I took a second and explained that I just wasn’t comfortable enough yet and I needed to get to know her more before I would be okay coming closer to hand her things. Almost every time since that moment she has extended her trunk out, without me having to ask, to take the food from me.” 

There is no end to learning how to interpret the emotions and needs of an elephant and we’re always working to learn more from them ourselves. It’s promising when you encounter someone so ready to listen and respond in the best way she knows how – and someone who also seeks to earn trust through continuous trials. 

Photo of Guillermina


  1. REPLY
    Melinda says

    We, humans and elephants, are constantly learning. Communication is everything! Nicole and Guille have it all going on!

  2. REPLY
    Leslie says

    How wonderful to both learn. Guillermina to trust as well as you. Great fun! Thank you!

  3. REPLY
    Beji says

    Look at this beautiful girl. If elephants had a magazine, she would surely be the cover girl.

  4. REPLY
    Fernande says

    quelle élégance elle a cette belle Guille

  5. REPLY
    Heather Parsons says

    I’m sure she knew this before it was communicated by you. Elephants use scent, and everything exudes an odour, so she could smell your apprehension before you verbalised it. Hence she was tentative to extend her truck, not knowing what your ‘intension’ was. Once you had verbalised your fear, she could pick up on the timba of your voice, that all was safe, that she extended her trunk.

  6. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Nicole Guillermina is a good girl and now you and her are friends

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