Guillermina’s Growth

We make it a priority not to set expectations when new elephants arrive, and Pocha and Guillermina have been a reminder that growth and healing doesn’t always happen on a predetermined schedule. Even before her first days at sanctuary, Guille has been different in many ways from other elephants we’ve known in the past. Her relationship with her mother was often not a respectful one. She was possessive of training time and the transport crates in Mendoza, and would either kick, push, or corral her mother away. Pocha had almost nothing to give Guillermina throughout her childhood, so she allowed many of Guille’s youthful behaviors to go uncorrected. The result is a pattern of dominance that Pocha has become accustomed to. It probably plays a large role in why her initial approach to other elephants is very submissive.

Since her arrival at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, Guillermina has shown us more of who she is; what we can say for sure is that she’s still very much in the process of becoming who she will be. She’s a young elephant who has never truly interacted with any elephants other than her mother and Tamy (over a wall), until now; as a result, she doesn’t understand much about elephant behavior and knows nothing about elephant dynamics in a group setting. Being 22 years old, one might compare her to an 18-year old human. Much like a teenager, Guille isn’t always perfectly behaved, her judgment might not always be well thought out, and her manners and respect need to be polished up. Many captive elephants her age would likely display the same behaviors.

Guillermina is processing a lot of information from all directions at the moment. She is only just beginning to spend time with the other elephants, and her comfort level with that varies. But other elephants in the herd have had to learn how to interact with others appropriately, and that’s a lesson Guille has ahead of her. Thankfully, each of them having gone through that same process helps them be more patient with the elephants that come after them. Guillermina will undoubtedly receive some pretty gentle corrections, which is normal – particularly when younger elephants are introduced to a group. Right now, she is doing really well with introductions, but that may shift when she becomes more comfortable in those relationships. Only she can decide how quickly to pick up on how to live with other elephants, what works within a group setting, and what it means to be an individual who makes mistakes, learns lessons, and evolves as a result of all that sanctuary has to offer. 

Photo of Guillermina, with Pocha following behind


  1. REPLY
    Melinda says

    Little by little G will make it and become the elephant she truly is – a rock star!

  2. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    She’s young and the other ladies will let her know “elephant etiquette” 💚

  3. REPLY
    Zoi Flores says

    I feel sorry for Pocha in many ways… it’d have been pretty difficult for her to rise a daughter without any help from her own family. Time will help. 💖

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Yes – and they will both have a chance to blossom and become who they were truly meant to be. Pocha did an amazing job with the limited tools she had as a mother.

  4. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Pocha did the best she could and knew how to do through the years with Guillermina! Now ESB has to do their
    best with helping these 2 elephants learn and grow! All Pocha has to do when G acts up is to walk away and this
    will teach G lessons. We all to learn our lessons!❤️🐘

  5. REPLY
    Katherine says

    Feels like Pocha is the stronger one, even though she defers. The dynamic between the two will be interesting to watch over the coming

  6. REPLY
    Irene says

    Omg poor Pocha a mothers love for her daughter! Such a wonderful mom! Pocha needs other elephants to help her teach this younger lady some manners! But all in time! She is like a spoiled only child! God bless them both! ❤️❤️🐘🐘

  7. REPLY
    Pam says

    I have so much respect for the sanctuary team, for your wonderful combination of gentle caring and extensive knowledge of elephant behaviors. Thank you for taking such great care of these beautiful beings, enabling them to heal their physical and emotional wounds, and supporting them so that they may flourish in their new surroundings and new community.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you for your kind words.

  8. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Pocha is a very strong brave girl she sure got a double dose of being held in the cruel world of captivity. While trying to be the best momma possible setting aside her own needs must have been so hard for her to raise that beautiful baby girl imprisoned all alone in a concrete prison. Being a mother is hard enough in the best of circumstances but where they were forced to survive was beyond horrific. Thank goodness they are in the best place possible now able to learn and grow into the best loving herd family with the most beautiful silly elephant sisters around! Cant wait to see how they each blossom into their own amazing individual elephants 🐘💞🐘

  9. REPLY
    Patricia Hunt says

    I have so much compassion for Guille and her patient mommy. I am so grateful for your loving care for all these beautiful and amazing girls. They are all very, very smart. And for that reason and the expertise of all at ESB, I believe we will see many changes over the next year and onward. I have had an inexplicable attraction in particular to this mom and daughter pair, since I first saw them. Over the many miles, I am always thinking of them with so much love and many prayers. Thank you, ESB, as always.

  10. REPLY
    Carol Anderson says

    I have worried about these two since I first say the horrible conditions that they have spent years living in. I am just so happy that they are now in the most beautiful place they could be in. I cant wait to see their growth and development. Thank you all for what you do. ,

  11. REPLY
    Lezlie says

    I’m curious to know what happened to Tamy, the other elephant from Guillermina’s past.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Tamy is still in Mendoza, though he will be given access to Pocha and Guillermina’s enclosure now. This will allow him to begin training, as he has quite a bit to learn (including trusting people) before he can potentially be transported. The plan is still to move him to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, after Kuky, Pupy, and Kenya – all female African elephants.

  12. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    Your explanations of the dynamics between Pocha and Guille remind me of a human child age of 10-12 that has never been corrected, always had mother’s complete attention. Oh Guille!!! So much to learn! You will be a different girl, in your own time. That is the beautiful part of being at GSE. You will explore, grow, and learn on your own sweet elephant time.

  13. REPLY
    Victoria Jones says

    I love Pocha & how she has shown her love to her daughter in the only way possible. In time, it will be wonderful for Guille to see her Mum with more respect & love. “In time” are the main words for this wonderful sanctuary; it’s all on elephant time.
    Thank you Scott & Kat & entire team .

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