Above: Pocha and Guillermina at Ecoparque Mendoza
HORIZONS AND HOPE FOR POCHA & GUILLERMINA
Thank you to all who donated toward Pocha and Guillermina’s cause – and for being part of bringing mom and daughter to the sanctuary.
IT’S MOM AND DAUGHTER’S TURN
Since the moment we met these two elephants in Mendoza, we dreamed about them leaving their concrete walls behind and coming home to the sanctuary, where nature would surround them at every turn. That day is only a few months away. With this unique double rescue, Pocha and Guillermina will join Mara, Rana, Lady, Maia, and Bambi at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil.
We aren’t sure whose life has been more of a struggle: Pocha, who raised a daughter in a small sterile pit, or Guillermina, who grew up behind concrete walls. We are thrilled to welcome both of them. They still have training to undergo for the required testing, then hopefully a smooth 30-day quarantine, then finally their journey of rebirth begins.
Pocha & Guillermina’s Rescue Map
The route to the sanctuary will be very similar to Mara’s journey, but the distance is comparable to Lady’s. As always, the elephants will determine how the drive goes, how often the team stops, and for how long. We will do everything possible to make sure mother and daughter can see, smell, and talk to each other at stops, bringing them assurance along the way.
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.
Guillermina Has Never Seen The Horizon
Guillermina has literally spent a lifetime in a below-ground enclosure at EcoParque Mendoza. Daughter of Pocha and Tamy, she grew up knowing nothing outside of the concrete walls surrounding her. Imagine spending 20 years without seeing more than a few feet in front of you, with just 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 mates while growing up, Pocha raised an elephant that is much more well-adjusted than you might think. It is almost unimaginable how much strength this must have required. We will always consider Pocha an absolute marvel.
If we haven’t answered your question here, please feel free to contact us at Sara@GlobalElephants.org
- How long is their trip?
- Will they be traveling in the same container?
- Can they lie down during transport?
- Why aren't you flying Pocha and Guillermina?
- Will P&G's caregivers be going with them?
- What will the team do along the way?
- Will they be sedated for travel?
- When will they meet the other elephants?
- What about the other Mendoza elephants?
How long is their trip?
About 3605 km (2240 miles).
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 transport containers and be separated for short periods of time initially, then extending the time as training progresses.
Can they lie down during transport?
Elephants do not lie down during their transport journey. They are able to lean on the back gate and sidewalls of the container during travel to support their weight. There is a camera mounted inside the container that helps us to keep an eye on their comfort level throughout the duration of the trip.
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. Some elephants hesitate to lie down, because it puts them in a vulnerable position, either with other elephants or caregivers they may not trust. An elephant may not be able to stand back up due to a physical ailment, or because their enclosure simply does not allow. So it is certainly not unnatural for an elephant to stand for a long time in captivity.
Why aren’t you flying Pocha and Guillermina?
Transporting an elephant by air requires an incredibly large aircraft and the airport located nearest the sanctuary cannot accommodate landing a plane that size, due to weight limits and length of the runway. It is also not an international airport. The closest airport in Brazil where a plane that size could land is Sao Paulo. Because of the length of time it takes for security, loading, and other airport requirements, flying would not expedite the trip.
In addition, the takeoff and landing of an airplane can be stressful for an elephant. Most generally do well on the road, because many of them have been transported this way throughout their lives.
While we can’t fly, we do have the good fortune of a wonderful police escort 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. The police provide two cars, sending one ahead of the caravan to handle the red tape of the next border checkpoint. That way, when our team arrives, they barely have to stop.
Will Pocha and Guillermina’s caregivers be going with her?
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team at the ecoparque will not be able to cross into Brazil as originally planned. We are working on trying to get permission for their main caregiver to accompany them.
Several ESB team members will be waiting at the Argentina/Brazil border, just as they were with Mara’s relocation. This team will include Scott, our veterinarian Trish, Ingo, and some other familiar faces from past rescues.
What will the team do along the way?
Our team members will be caring for Pocha and Guillermina by offering them fresh water and food during stops, 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 to cut banana leaves and grass.
The transport team also travels with a first aid kit that includes traditional medicines, IV fluids and lines, other injectables, as well as essential oils and flower essences that may comfort them or help with behavior. 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, then appropriately make adjustments when necessary. We are their caregivers on the road as well as at the sanctuary.
Unless we detect that an elephant needs to stop unexpectedly, our usual driving schedule includes stops around every three hours to refresh water and food/produce, and clean out waste. During the day, we look for gas stations with adequate sun coverage to keep the elephants 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 travel.
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. Our trainer Karissa has already worked with Kenya, so her quarantine training should be easier than with Pocha and Guillermina. Kenya’s habitat is constructed, we are currently waiting on the Brazilian license to accept elephants into that habitat, and then EcoParque Mendoza can begin with Kenya’s CITES permits. Tamy will be the last of the Mendoza elephants to come to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. Funds have been raised to construct his habitat, we are waiting for the permit to begin building. 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. At the moment, we cannot provide a timeline for either rescue.
Sanctuary isn’t just a place; it’s a new beginning, peace of mind, a real home. For the first time, Pocha and Guillermina will have a life that will allow them to heal and discover their true selves. Thank you for helping to build and provide this space 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