Above: Pocha and Guillermina at Ecoparque Mendoza



Since the moment we met the elephants in Mendoza, we dreamed about them leaving their concrete walls behind and coming home to the sanctuary, where nature surrounds them at every turn. That day is now just a few months away. A double rescue, you can help Pocha and Guillermina join Mara, Rana, Lady, Maia, and Bambi at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil.

Unsure of whose life has been more of a struggle, Pocha, having to raise a daughter in a small sterile pit, or Guillermina, growing up behind concrete walls, we are thrilled to welcome both of them. They still have training to undergo for the required testing, and then a hopefully smooth 30-day quarantine, then their journey of rebirth begins.

The cost of their rescue includes:

  • all parts of the journey; many items multiplied times two (see details in FAQ section below)
  • sending/housing two trainers to Mendoza for additional training and 30-day quarantine procedures



Thank you to all who donated –  and for being part of bringing mom and daughter to the sanctuary, where they can spend the rest of their lives together, exploring the property, living a more natural life.


Support Their New Life at Sanctuary!

Pocha and Guillermina at the zoo
Pocha & Guillermina’s Rescue Map
Pocha and Guillermina rescue map

Guillermina Has Never Seen The Horizon

For Guillermina, it has literally been a lifetime that she has lived at EcoParque Mendoza. Daughter of Pocha and Tamy, she grew up knowing nothing outside of the concrete walls surrounding her. Imagine 20 years of not being able to see further than a few feet in front of you and a thin slice of sky above your head. Guillermina has never seen the horizon line or the rest of the world that stretches off into the distance. Her ‘world’ is so small, but all of that is about to change.

Even though Guillermina had no stimulation or herd while growing up, Pocha raised an elephant that is much more well-adjusted than you would think she would have grown up to be. The mental strength such a task must have taken is unimaginable. We will always consider Pocha an absolute marvel.

But Now Hope Awaits Them Both

Sanctuary will be more of an adjustment for Guillermina than any other elephant we have worked with, but she is young, she will have her mother, and she deserves a chance at a more natural life. The vast green spaces of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil and some new friends await both mother and daughter.

Thank you for helping give them a second chance and a new life.



If we haven’t answered your question here, please feel free to contact us at Kat@GlobalElephants.org

What is the cost?

Although the city/zoo had initially stated they would pay for the relocation, due to fluctuations in the value of their pesos and government shifts, the sanctuary will now need to fund their rescue. We approximate the cost of Pocha and Guillermina’s rescue to be around $74,700.  This total includes:

  • 2 truck drivers per truck
  • truck rental to deliver empty containers to Mendoza
  • two trucks to bring Pocha and Guillermina to ESB
  • crane rentals for the park and sanctuary unloading and loading crates
  • flights and rental cars to transport ESB team to and from Mendoza
  • hotels and food for ESB team on the journey home to ESB
  • food for Pocha and Guillermina
  • an additional camera system for the second crate
  • and the cost of sending two trainers for training necessary behaviors and acquiring samples during quarantine

We are requesting the donation of in-kind services where possible such as the trucks and cranes donated by local businesses, etc.

How long is their trip?

About 3240km (2010 miles).

What occurs during the journey?

Many interesting things! The ESB team usually begins rescue day early in the morning, before the sun comes up when the site is cooler and quieter. There will be two groups working to load both elephants. Once Pocha and Guillermina are inside their containers, we will load the containers onto the trucks with a crane and carefully secure them. Then, we hit the road!

Pocha and Guillermina will not be chained for the journey; they will be able to move freely within the dimensions of the containers we designed specifically for elephants—so that they can’t lay down or turn around for their own safety.

Will they be traveling in the same container?

For their own safety, Pocha and Guillermina will not be traveling in the same container. Before their road trip, they will be trained to go into different containers and be separated for short periods of time initially, then extending the time as training progresses.

Can they lie down during transport?

People often express concern for elephants having to stand for an extended period of time during rescues, but it is important to know that many elephants in captivity don’t lay down for years. Pocha and Guillermina’s past caregivers have not seen either of them lie down, and there are no physical signs that they do. It is a vulnerable position for elephants who may not trust an elephant enclosure-mate or caregiver, because they are scared they won’t be able to stand back up due to a physical ailment, or because their enclosure simply does not allow. Elephants do not lie down during transport.

The elephants are able to lean on the back gate and sidewalls of the container during transport to support their weight. And the camera mounted inside the container will help us to keep an eye on their comfort level throughout the duration of the trip.

What is time on the road like?

Unless we detect a need to stop for the elephant, our usual driving schedule includes stops around every two hours to refresh water and food/produce and clean out waste. During the day, we’ll look for gas stations with adequate sun coverage to keep the elephant nice and cool. At the end of the night, we stop for several hours, depending on the behavior of the elephant, so their bodies can relax from the movement on the road. Some brace their bodies more for curves and hills and need an extended break from the road.

Why aren’t you flying Pocha and Guillermina?

The airport located nearest the sanctuary is not an option to land at, because it is not international and cannot accommodate the size of plane needed to carry an elephant, and the length of the runway and weight limit also do not meet requirements. The closest airport in Brazil that they could land at is Sao Paulo and doesn’t save much travel time with the time required for security, loading, and other airport requirements.

In addition, the takeoff and landing of an airplane can be stressful for an elephant. While they generally do well on the road because many of them have been transported this way due to a life lived on the road.

Is driving safe?

While we can’t fly, we do have the good fortune of the escort of a wonderful police team who make road travel as easy as possible. They watch over our caravan and ensure our safety and smooth sailing every step of the way. With two cars, the police will send one ahead to handle the red tape of the next border checkpoint, so that when our team arrives, they barely have to stop.

Will Pocha and Guillermina’s caregivers be going with her?

Due to COVID-19 precautions, the elephants’ main caregiver is no longer at the park. In addition, we are keeping boots on the ground as minimal as possible. Safety not only for Pocha and Guillermina, but for the team, is paramount.

Several ESB team members will be present with Pocha and Guillermina throughout their trip, including Scott, our veterinarian Trish, and Karissa.

What will the team do along the way?

The responsibilities of our team members will be treating Pocha and Guillermina with probiotics before travel to improve the health of their GI tract, offering them fresh water and food produce during stops, and keeping them hydrated with juicy fruits and veggies and Gatorade as needed. We are committed to the freshest, highest-quality food for our elephants, often stopping along the way to purchase from local produce sellers or cut banana leaves and grass.

Our team also travels with a first aid kit that includes traditional medicines, IV fluids and lines, and other injectables, as well as behavior essential oils and flower essences. Elephants are extraordinarily scent-oriented, and we have found that these aromatherapies help to soothe anxiety for many passengers.

A significant part of our responsibility is the same as at sanctuary, we watch for changes in behavior and any small signs of stress, to appropriately make adjustments. We are their caregivers on the road, as well as at the sanctuary.

What training is required?

Like our other transfers, our team will arrive at the zoo 3–4 days prior to moving Pocha and Guillermina to get them ready for travel. Their crates will already be there and set up beforehand. Karissa and Krissy will be working on getting both girls used to the transport container and being separated before our team arrives.

Because Pocha and Guillermina are coming to the sanctuary from outside of Brazil,  physical testing and 30-day quarantine are required. This means they will need to be trained to acquire samples and give injections and medications.

Will they be sedated for travel?

No, we never sedate elephants for transport. Because of their sensitivity and intelligence, we have found they do much better when they are alert and aware of everything going on around them. Scott has transported approximately 50 non-sedated elephants in his career, and all have gone well. We do bring emergency drugs for sedation with us in case they are needed.

When will they meet the other elephants?

As always, we mostly leave that up to the elephants. After unloading, they will stay in the open-air barn by themselves for the night. Elephants arriving at sanctuary will usually dust first, because they feel dirty from being on the road, followed by a drink or bath, and then take a nap.

In the morning, they will determine their next steps, most likely influenced by Guillermina’s comfort level. We may have one elephant come up to the opposite side of the fence, careful not to overwhelm either of them. The new elephants’ experience is completely customized; everything functions on their time—no expectations, no set schedules. Because Guillermina has never been able to see the world around her, she may need a little more time to feel comfortable and confident around the other elephants, but that is okay. We will let her determine how introductions progress.

What about the other Mendoza elephants?

The plan is to rescue both Kenya and Tamy as well. Karissa has already worked with Kenya, so her quarantine training should be easier than Pocha and Guillermina. Kenya’s barn and first yard are constructed, but yards 2 & 3 need to be finished before she can be brought to the sanctuary. Tamy will be the last of the Mendoza elephants to come to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. Funds still need to be raised to construct his habitat, and he will need significant training before relocation due to his aggressive tendencies and current reluctance and interest in training. His behavior will most likely change, but it is one of the many variables we have no control over. We don’t have a current time frame for either rescue.


Kat and Scott - Ramba rescue 0ct 2019

Sanctuary isn’t just a place it’s a new beginning, peace of mind, their home. For the first time, Pocha and Guillermina will have a life that is all about them. Thank you for helping to build and provide this for them.

Every dollar makes a difference.  Every share brings them closer to home.  Every one of us can change their lives.  Forever.

Scott and Kat Blais
Co-founders Global Sanctuary for Elephants
and Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

Maia, Guida and rainbows