From Trish: A Day in the Life Here at Sanctuary

Our educational approach includes plenty of up-close, hands-on practical education, observations, and conversations. There are times when we feel it’s important for our care staff to have solo moments to make decisions, see what works well for them, and understand the scope of what still needs to be learned and explored. We work alongside them, of course, but anyone who plans to work with elephants long-term needs both a sense of confidence and an understanding of the massive amount of continuing education required. That is part of our goal as teachers and as elephant advocates. We recently asked Trish to detail what a day in the life at sanctuary looked like for her, on a day that she and the team took over the care of all of the sanctuary residents: 

The morning here starts at 7am, or even earlier if you want to watch some of the most unbelievable sunrises at 5:30am. 

One of the sanctuary dogs, Molly, has a variety of medical conditions and requires medications spaced throughout the day. She was following me around closely, so I packed up her mid-morning medicine for our trip to the barn – where she has been supervising us all lately.

The animals up at the top of the hill must be fed breakfast and given medications (if necessary), before we can head down to check out where all five elephant girls are. At the house, you can check the two cameras to see if any elephants are waiting for breakfast at the barn. You will usually find Bambi and Mara by the pond and know that Rana is somewhere close by. 


On the way down from the house you keep your eyes open to see any signs of elephants in the yards or water missing from the troughs, indicating someone has drunk there recently. We then make a plan for the day, dividing up tasks and deciding who is feeding which elephants and who will be opening and closing each gate and cleaning the yards.There always has to be someone watching the girls as they eat breakfast, to ensure that everything is done safely.


Lady has been coming in to get her foot soaks and some of her treatments with me and Mateus, and has been so cooperative and enjoying all the extra treats. Around 4pm we usually let Mara in for her private dinner. As we know, Mara often brings her friends Bambi and Rana along. Sometimes they start heading to the barn at 2:30-3pm, and other days a short drive by the pond reminds them it’s around that time. Bambi and Mara are quick to head back to the barn, but Rana usually takes her time, showing up about 15 minutes after the other two and picking up leftovers wherever she can. Mara has been doing well with allowing both me and Mateus to wash her and apply bug spray, while she enjoys her dinner in the chute, away from her slightly invasive friends.

After Mara is finished, the sun is setting and sometimes, if you are lucky, there are toucans or macaws or flocks of parakeets flying over. It’s a very peaceful time of night. Rana and Mara and Bambi have all been fed dinner and are mingling around, all finishing up each other’s hay. Mara recently has been very cute asking for more food when all the hay is finished. I tell her the kitchen is closed, so no more orders tonight  – but after-dinner dessert is being offered out in the yards. 

While someone is feeding the three girls at the barn, someone else goes out to deliver dinner to Maia and Lady, and spread food around the yards for all of them to find throughout the night. 


Back at the house, around sunset, all the roosters are getting into bed up in the trees or along the porch wall. The three dogs and two cats are waiting for their dinner in the kitchen. There is just a beautiful peaceful vibe as the sun magnificently goes down and all becomes gradually quiet. 

One of my favorite parts of being up at the house has been the different faces I find outside the front door, obviously looking for something. Sampson, the rooster who’s blind in his right eye, comes for his daily fruit and nuts. Milo the sheep is the only animal to show his displeasure when he discovers that I am not Scott or Kat. I was told that offering him papaya might make him my friend again, but I just found out he’s also been looking for a salty snack. No wonder he’s been spitting out the fruit I’ve been giving him. 

At 10pm there is one last feeding and treatment to do for Alma, the resident tapir. One of the dogs, Bugsy, always walks me from the house to Alma’s enclosure and patiently waits outside. It is so peaceful and beautiful here on a clear night, with so many stars in the sky. 

In addition to Bugsy, there is a duck who walks to and from Alma’s enclosure, looking for company and, of course, food. Often Milo the sheep joins the group for Alma’s last treatment as well.


When you get close, Alma makes this loud chirping sound, excited you are coming with one last meal. Tapirs are nocturnal, so she is just waking up as I’m trying to stay awake. Bugsy and Minnie are then left to sleep on the veranda to protect all the other animals from hungry wildlife.

The days are full of hard work and I am so grateful to be here in this beautiful place helping Scott, Kat, and the sanctuary team. I am honored they have entrusted me with everyone’s care. Of course my focus has always been the elephants, but this time I am really enjoying getting to know the other beings that call the sanctuary home, too.


  1. REPLY
    June Ross says

    Wonderful write up Trish! I felt like I was there with you. Thank you!

  2. REPLY
    Carol says

    Wow! Amazing! Working with precious beings that are in need of care and compassion must be so rewarding.

  3. REPLY
    Constance S. Harris says


  4. REPLY
    Rachel says

    What a wonderful post. Calming, positive, heartwarming, and I could envision it all. Thank you Trish! 🌸

  5. REPLY
    Lane says

    Just this essay could be your first book. With pictures of Scott and Kat, of course. Do it and I’ll buy it, I promise!

  6. REPLY
    Irene says

    Thank you Trish! Very enduring and beautiful! How fortunate you are to be in one of the most beautiful places on earth, caring for so many wonderful creatures! ❤️🙌

  7. REPLY
    Alana says

    Sounds like Heaven on Earth.

  8. REPLY
    Barb says

    I felt like I accompanied you, Trish, as you described a beautiful day at ESB. Thank you for taking me there 🙂❤️

  9. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Trish good day you had question what other Animals are out there that are harmful to the animals

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      There are no natural predators to the elephants here. In the wild, large cats or crocodiles may target young elephants, but there are no animals in that category here. All around the world, the biggest danger to elephants is humans.

  10. REPLY
    Sharon Cameron says

    I could just feel the relaxed vibe of the sanctuary.

  11. REPLY
    Wim says

    A day in the life feels like a year. The hands of love nursing many friends fulfilling Sanctuary life.

  12. REPLY
    Elizabeth says

    I love hearing a glimpse of a day there Trish thank you. Sounds so cool I’d love to visit.

  13. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Anyone who has simultaneously taken care of multiple species of animals know that, despite your idyllic portrayal of a place I could only describe as Heaven on Earth, it is an awful lot of work of the most rewarding kind! Kudos for the job you do. I am positive that Scott & Kat are extremely grateful for the help you provide.
    Thank you for this lovely heartwarming post!

  14. REPLY
    Christine says

    Thankyou Trish, you are truly blessed to have the companionship of so many special friends. The icing on the cake must be the beautiful sun rises and sunsets. God bless you ,🙏

  15. REPLY
    Jeannie Ulrich says

    What a wonderful post! I can feel the beauty of life at the Sanctuary. One that is filled hard but satisfying work. Such a privlege to spend with the elephants. It sounds like where I would like to go to retire, too. Thanks for your part in the care of the Sanctuary inhabitants and sharing your day with us!

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