In Memory of Guida


Honestly, I don’t want to write the words because it makes this all real, but Guida passed away last night. Our strong and grateful one, who was supposed to live forever, apparently had other plans. It’s never easy to lose an elephant, but when there’s no notice and their light is still shining so brightly, it harder to accept. We know the damage that decades in captivity can cause, but selfishly, we weren’t ready to lose her just yet.

Maia is with her as I write this. She walked over to Guida, somewhat tentatively at first, seeming unsure of the scene before her. Initially she kept her trunk at a distance, taking short smells and then pulling away. After a couple of moments that shifted to her touching all over Guida and stopping to smell different parts, forming a picture of what happened. Maia was quiet but also out of sorts and we felt like we were creating a distraction. We gave Maia some extra hay (she finds comfort in food) and decided to leave her alone with her sister to process and feel what she needed to feel.

Rana spent a lot of time near the fence line where Guida was last night. She would put her trunk up and smell in her direction, clearly knowing there was something wrong. This morning she has stayed closer to the barn acting like her bright self, letting out a couple of squeaks around breakfast time. She isn’t in the area that Guida is in, so we are unsure if she is going to go over to her, but the space is open if she chooses to. We will not force her; she clearly knows where Guida is.

As for what happened, we’re not certain. Yesterday we found her ‘stuck’ in a spot she shouldn’t have been stuck in. It was a somewhat narrow cow trail and she simply wasn’t willing to lift her one foot to cross over the other. Guida is our girl that chooses to take the difficult paths, this was completely unlike her. We’re not sure why she felt she was stuck, but we helped her get out just by widening the path a tiny bit with sticks, and verbal encouragement, and she finishing going down the trail. Then she seemed to believe she was stuck in the stream, which was only a couple of inches deep and a couple of feet wide. Her body was clearly exhausted; her legs would slightly buckle from time to time. We used the backhoe to help her out when we saw she wasn’t going to leave on her own. During that process, she would take a step or two, and then lean on a dirt mound to rest for a bit, take another step or two. When she did get out, she laid down. We placed an IV, started her on several meds, and pulled bloods with the hope she would allow her body to rest. But, after some time, her breaths became more infrequent until they simply stopped. It was quiet and peaceful, but not the outcome any of us wanted.

It’s hard to imagine that Guida won’t be down there when we go to take care of the girls and it’s hard to accept that her silly trumpet attempts from the day before will be the last we ever hear from her. What is the most heartbreaking is looking at Maia and knowing she lost her best friend, only a few years after she really found her. At this point it’s impossible to look at her and not cry. We know this is all part of the journey, that this will help her to open herself more to other elephants and cause exponential emotional growth. We’ve seen it before. But right now we find ourselves seeing an elephant who sometimes struggles with emotions, having to deal with one of the most devastating occurrences. Sanctuary causes elephants to open themselves up emotionally, and beautiful changes happen because of it, but it also makes them vulnerable to significant hurt as well. Hopefully, Maia will open herself up and allow Rana to help her through her struggles and show her she has another friend she can lean on.

Please visit Guida’s memorial page and leave a note for her here →   We know how many of you fell in love with her and are grateful you helped her feel an unconditional love she had never known.

June 25, 2019


  1. REPLY
    Kathy Vadnais says

    Unfortunately her body wasn’t as strong as her spirit. She has been through a lot but her last years with you have been heaven to her. Thank you for that. Run free dear Guida ???

  2. REPLY
    Janet Locke says

    What a terrible loss. A relatively short time in a sanctuary where you were loved and cared for with a best friend at your side is certainly better than no time in a sanctuary, but we are all heartbroken that it wasn’t longer. At least now you are with your mother and sisters in ele heaven. Thank you, Scott and Kat for taking such loving care of Guida when she was with you.

  3. REPLY
    Carolyn McNeil says

    When the unexpected happens, it is like a dagger to the heart. Then you have to remember the good times, the absolute perfection of a life that had meaning and purpose. Guida is an ambassador for her species. Her coming to sanctuary is a reminder that there are more rescues to follow and that each day with these amazing beings is a treasure that has been given to us. I loved her smiley face. This is embedded in my mind and heart. May you be running thru the clouds, trumpeting softly, your breath a soft caressing breeze on our faces.

  4. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    I am so sorry for such a deep and painful loss. I am thankful Guida got to experience your Sanctuary. I will be thinking of you and all others there, but especially Maia and Rana. I am hopeful other wonderful Elephants will soon be with you.

  5. REPLY
    Karen says

    My heart is breaking, but still so thankful that she was happy, peaceful, and with friends, not chained up somewhere else. It sounds as though she was suddenly failing, and was ready to go, but so, so difficult to hear about that big silly girl passing away.

  6. REPLY
    Robyn Messina says

    Thank you for all you did for Guida. Our deepest sympathy for all.

  7. REPLY
    Liora says

    Just shocked and devastated by this sad news. Thank you for giving her a respite from her difficult life. Thank you for giving her so much loving care and freedom. I’m so so sorry for your loss.

  8. REPLY
    Martin says

    ‪How devastating !! That’s right, we were not ready to loose Guida, beautiful girl. Thanks to Katherine & Scott and the team for allowing her to savour these few years at GSE in elephant dignity ?????. Deepest sympathies to you all and also Maia and Rana. RIP amazing Guida ? ? ‬

  9. REPLY
    Renee Booth says

    Such beautiful, majestic animals that are subjected to atrocities that are unthinkable. I too am so pleased that Guida spent her last year with you in an emotionally safe & loved environment. Praying for emotional healing for Maia – as you say hope she reaches out to Rana. Rest in peace special lady

  10. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    This is devastating. I pray for her beautiful soul and comfort for Maia during and after her grieving. I am at a loss. So very sorry to all at ESB as youu grieve. I think Rana will help Maia as she must be so sad. Guida couldn’t have been at a better place to spend the rest of her days. Love to all of you.

  11. REPLY
    Ann Williams says

    It is difficult to compose through tears and thousands of us r struggling with her loss.i do not understand why she died, she was not old, . I know u ,kat & staff r grieving. . Prayers to all ,Dana, maia,and all humans who loved her

  12. REPLY
    Jeanne Barrett says

    Deepest condolences to all who loved and cared for dear, beautiful Guida, and endless thanks to all who made her years in sanctuary possible. Love especially to Maia and Rana, Kat and Scott. May her memory be a blessing.

  13. REPLY
    Amber Highstockings says

    … forever in your heart …

  14. REPLY
    Peter Wood says

    Rest In Peace, beautiful Guida. Thank you for all that you did for her.

  15. REPLY
    Nadine Mayo says

    Gallant Guida was the first Ellie I saw when I joined the group, and I fell deeper in love with her each time I was blessed to have seen videos and pictures of her, and then learning and reading about her personality just added more to reasons I love her. I feel such disappointment for being a part of humanity that has let so many beautiful souls like Guida’s down with the abuse that has been done to her and others via my kind of species. I am however glad that she did get to be free, feel love from humans upon arriving at her furever home sanctuary and it softens the grief knowing she was loved, taken care of and allowed to be who she was, a gorgeous soul who found peace in her surroundings, no doubt began to trust that not all humans are bad and had her sister Maia’s companionship and newly found friendship with Rana. I have surrounded myself with only humans who care, love, donate and dedicate their lives and efforts in wanting better fur our beloved wildlife, and have lost many beautiful souls to death along the way, both human and animals, none easier or less harder than the last. I will remember Gallant Guida as my first that opened my heart and soul further and will always see her as free to be and send love to all those that are and will profoundly miss her, none more than Maia!

  16. REPLY
    Nancy says

    Words can’t tell the pain of this loss. I will miss her and I know all of your hearts ache too.

    Try and soothe that with togetherness and love there❤️❤️??

    Thank you for saving her

  17. REPLY
    Wendy Smith says

    I’m so grateful that Guida got to spend her last years in your Sanctuary. I didn’t get to meet her in person but your descriptions of her personality made me feel like I knew her and makes me more determined then ever to raise funds to bring the rest of the captive elephants in South America to the Sanctuary. Hugs to all of you, especially Maia and Rana.

  18. REPLY
    Elke Riesterer says

    ? So very sad to learn of Guida’s unexpected passing. I a. grieving with you ?? It is truly comforting that Guida had precious sanctuary time before she crossed the rainbow bridge. ❤️?????

  19. REPLY
    Amanda Chappell says

    The news of Guida’s passing is so sad and heart breaking. I find some comfort knowing she got to experience and know love, friendship, kindness, compassion, and freedom for her last 2 years she spent with you at your amazing sanctuary. She will be deeply missed and forever remembered. Thank you Scott and Kat and for all you did for her, she was blessed to have found sanctuary with you. Love and hugs to you all. Rest in peace sweet girl.

  20. REPLY
    Carey says

    A shocking, unexpected and terrible loss. I’m so thankful that at least, Guida got to experience GSE life and such closeness and friendship with Maia, at least she did not die in that field where she was locked in her sadness and so fragile looking. Difficult days ahead feeling this loss, I send my sincere fond wishes to all at GSE and to Maia,and Rana too. l

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.