Scott’s days are generally filled with elephant care and sanctuary maintenance, so he rarely has a chance to sit down and write out his thoughts. Today, we’re lucky to share some of Scott’s words with you:
This morning, as with every morning through the past several months, my front row seat to sanctuary life has carried with it a cacophony of animal songs and elephant vocalizations. Sitting here in our open-sided container house, sipping coffee, trying to race through computer-based obligations and communications before our teams start to arrive, I’m surrounded by the sounds of songbirds, the ever-present calls of the roosters and, on occasion, the special treat of green-winged macaws chattering as they eat seed from a tree just meters from the edge of the porch. On cue, as they have been doing for nearly every morning in the past 4 months, the elephants start to sing. It normally starts with a deep rumble, which appears to be a call from Bambi to relocate Mara or Rana. From there, the excitement builds with louder rumbles and often bellows, which quickly start to warble in a wave-like pattern indicating that their search has evolved from a more casual pursuit into a run. Trumpets follow, initially loud and forceful once they have located one another, then tapering off to sweet, happy, contented trumpets, often followed by Rana’s famous deflating trumpet. Mara joins with her signature squeaks as they all emit gentle rumbles that resonate throughout the valley.
While this usual “search and rescue” is frequently coordinated by Bambi, Pocha and Guillermina are quick to join in the festivities. On occasion, the two begin their own call and response, as Guillermina has become more proficient with communication over greater distances. Pocha and Guillermina frequently separate, with Guille running off to the pond or heading out to explore life with her new friends; both of them will roam in search of more food. In their early days here, this sort of separation produced panic and they truly seemed to feel that it was a rescue mission to reunite. At the time, they didn’t know how to use their rumbles to identify one another’s location. Of course, they never needed this skill before, since for all of Guillermina’s life – and 50 years of Pocha’s – they always knew where to find each other; the two were never more than a few steps away. Location of friends and family was not a skill that any of these elephants used for years at a time. I imagine all of these elephants as infants, when stolen from their families to be enslaved into captivity, locked in a crate or chained isolation, bellowing, screaming for someone to help, only to have their cries fall on deaf ears. Now, sanctuary is giving them this opportunity to build a family where they can explore life on elephant terms and once again use their calls to celebrate friendships, knowing that there will always be a response from someone who hears them.
Photo of Bambi enjoying the morning light