At the beginning of this year, we set our intentions to embrace joy and celebrate each milestone we reached as the gift that it is. Knowing the healing power of sanctuary and taking lessons from each elephant we’ve known, we set forth on a pathway that we knew wouldn’t be a straight line; in fact, it was paved with twists and turns that we could not have foreseen. And yet, as we take today to express our gratitude for the past 12 months, we know that the bumpy road we trod was one of many valuable lessons.
A true positive we witnessed this year was Maia’s re-integration into the group of Bambi, Mara, and Rana. She was able to face her insecurities and ease her way back toward having friends on her terms; the friendships are different from the one she shared with Guida, but they are valuable on their own.
There is no underestimating the fact that Pocha and Guillermina’s journey to sanctuary was a long and complicated one, filled with unexpected roadblocks. But, with your support and the hard work of our team (working together with the staff at Ecoparque Mendoza), we all finally witnessed the two step out of their transport crates and into a new world they never imagined. Their gradual progress as they tentatively made their way from the barn into the habitat was moving and gratifying – and the relationships they built with the other elephants showed that their bravery exceeded our expectations.
Of course, not everything turns out the way you hope it will. Though we lost Memphis the macaw and Alma the tapir this year, the most obvious blow to our hearts was the passing of Pocha in October. But it brought comfort knowing that she was able to finally feel the freedom of sanctuary for a short time and watch her daughter build relationships and flourish in so many ways that would not have been possible before. Guillermina’s ability to face her mother’s death and open her heart to growth and relationships with others has given us inspiration for our own growth.
And so what is there to say about the year to come? We start the year looking forward with permits already in process for elephants to come to sanctuary, continued construction on the Asian male habitat, and ongoing emotional and physical support for the existing herd. Otherwise, we don’t know what it will bring – what challenges and delights the elephants will face or that we will take on as an organization. We hope that, together, we can all step forward into this new year with purpose – taking the lessons we need from 2022 and moving forward with a sense of promise and hope for healthy growth.
Photo of Rana and Mara