From Scott: Early Morning Elephant Rituals

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


  1. REPLY
    Nancy says

    This almost made me cry. Thank you Scott!!

  2. REPLY
    Carol Goldstein O’Connell says

    Wow Scott, I think you and Sara are amazingly picturesque and sensitive, observant authors. Absolutely magnificent description and analysis of the girls past, present and future. You have brought me to tears🙏🏻 Sending much love to you ALL

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      How kind of you. I’ll make sure that Scott gets your message.

  3. REPLY
    Mary says

    This post is so beautiful, it made me cry. Thank you, Scott.

  4. REPLY
    Deb says

    Scott writes so beautifully that I pictured the girls trumpeting & roaming sanctuary.
    Thanks so much for all you do!

  5. REPLY
    Julie says

    Thank you, Scott. My tears are grateful tears!

  6. REPLY
    Heidi says

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful words Scott! I adore all of these elephants and everything you do for them.

  7. REPLY
    John says


  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    Thank you Scott, beauty that comes from one heart travels to find another heart.

  9. REPLY
    Beji says

    Sometimes you cry sad tears, sometimes, happy tears….very seldom do you do both in a matter of minutes…but Apparently, with these girls you do both. My Heart breaks for all the elephants you can’t save, but I’m so happy that you can save at least one…you are better people than most. ROCK ON!!

  10. REPLY
    Susy says

    Scott…tus palabras son como imágenes y reproducen los sonidos que todos allí disfrutan. Lamentablemente estoy muy triste por la partida de Pocha. Espero algunas palabras tuyas que saquen un poco de esta tristeza… Pocha fue un ejemplo de de valentía y alegría…una mamá hermosa.

  11. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    Beautiful thought from Scott about these beautiful, precious elephants just learning to be elephants. It brought tears thinking of the many elephants still in captivity screaming , and their screams and bellows falling on deaf ears. We MUST do everything in our power to help free captive elephants, because #sanctuaryheals.

  12. REPLY
    Mónica Carrillo says

    Hola Scott, sinceramente estoy replanteandome muchas cosas respecto al Santuario. La repentina muerte de Pocha y sin causa aparente, me hacen dudar del cuidado y seguimiento que hacen a los elefantes…. Es dudosa su muerte, el motivo, y espero algún día podamos conocer la autopsia. Algo paso con Pocha, no pudo morir de un día para el otro así…

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      hi monica, you are allowed to have whatever doubts you feel. sudden death of an elephant is much more normal than you would apparently think. as wild animals, they tend to mask their illness for as long as possible- it is a natural instinct. we may have a preliminary necropsy report next week, which will hopefully have something we can share that will help everyone understand what happened. this is an official necropsy, with a university team, and SEMA observing, so all doubts should be resolved shortly.

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