In Memory of Pelusa

Four years ago, a captive elephant named Pelusa, died. And although she never made it to the sanctuary, we have not loved her any less. For those of you who don’t know her, she was a lovely but struggling elephant that we were introduced to and asked to take at the beginning of the existence of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. She was over 1500 lbs (680 kg) underweight and her feet were in horrific condition. The zoo in La Plata, Argentina decided that they wanted her to come to the sanctuary for specialized care and to live out the rest of her life surrounded by nature and other elephants. We went to meet her and were initially heartbroken, she was in very poor condition and would hit herself in the face with her trunk while stereotyping. But one of the most beautiful things about Pelusa was that after about 5 minutes of being in her presence, her inner strength and radiance shone through. You could see she was magnificent, even as she was falling apart.

We agreed to take her, but Brazilian regulations required us to build at least one of the larger yards before being able to accept her. In the early days that meant raising funds that were hard to come by and our small team then building the fences. While we navigated our way through those struggles, we worked with Pelusa’s loving keepers (they did adore her)  to try to improve her care. During this time she didn’t really improve, so as we were closer to having the 4th Yard completed, we decided to send a caregiver to care for Pelusa exclusively, to make sure we could give her as much of sanctuary as possible without her actually being here. Her caregiver not only provided her with daily care, but would buy her food and snacks, and help her build the confidence she needed to start using the yard behind her barn, which had a much softer substrate and was more kind on her feet. Pelusa was putting on weight and emotionally improving. 

While the arduous task of permits and paperwork began, the zoo visited and we had the honest conversation about the risk of transport on an elephant that was so unwell. Pelusa had not laid down in years, since she once struggled to rise. And as a really big elephant (she was incredibly tall) with terrible feet, the journey would not be easy. They acknowledged that the relocation could end tragically, but felt it was worth it to give her even a day at sanctuary, in the company of others who could truly understand her (at that time Maia and Guida were already here). Permits had not yet gone through as we were making modifications to the crates so she could essentially sit down if she needed (something she did at the zoo) when we got the call that Pelusa had gone down. Scott hopped on a plane to go see her.

Unfortunately, what he found was that after years of struggling, Pelusa seemed to have nothing left to give. She showed no signs of wanting to get up, was resistant to any assistance in propping her up, and after a day, the keepers, management, politicians (public zoos are run very differently in South America), and even a judge, made the decision to euthanize her. And although she never made it here, she had found a place deep in our hearts and we consider her part of the sanctuary. 

Please take a moment today to think of her, to look at her, and through the gaunt appearance and tired eyes, still see the magnificent being that she was. She deserved to feel the love from around the world that all of the girls here feel today and to be seen for who she was without the harsh toll that captivity took on her. 


  1. REPLY
    Merry says

    I am so sorry for your loss. Her story breaks my heart. Thank you for posting about her. love, Merry

  2. REPLY
    Andrea says

    Just tears for a beautiful heart, soul and body so tragically broken….

  3. REPLY
    Mary Ann Hunt says

    Just heartbreaking to read. Such a special girl.

  4. REPLY
    Suzanne Eaton says

    It’s the first time I’ve heard about Palusa and my heart breaks and tears stream. She is a magnificent sentient being that deserved so much better. She was only 47 years old which tells me she suffered a horrible life at the
    hands of greedy humans. She will forever be in my heart and prayers. Thank you for sharing her story.

  5. REPLY
    Cher says

    I remember Pelusa & my heart weeps. I pray she’s in ellie heaven walking in beautiful fields of green, eating watermelons 🍉 & resting in peace ✌🏻 ♥️🐘

  6. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    With Love and Admiration

  7. REPLY
    Eileen L. says

    I remember when this happened, and am grateful that you did all that you possibly could for her, to help her know she was magnificent, and very much loved.

  8. REPLY
    Gayle says

    Sweet Pelusa. I’m so very sorry you didn’t make it to sanctuary, but I know you are supervising the daily goings on from above. The sanctuary is a wondrous place and is filled with love and kindness that I hope you can feel from wherever you are. You will always be in all our hearts and hope if you come back to earth again, that you will have the loving and happy life that you so deserved this time around. ❤️

  9. REPLY
    Barb Campbell says

    Thank you for this lovely post about Pelusa she is my first elephant when I started following GSE. 😢💗🐘

  10. REPLY
    Jinjer says

    So very sorry, sweet Pelusa. 🙁

  11. REPLY
    Linda says

    Tears of both love and great sadness for Pelusa. She is home in the everlasting Sanctuary now, free from her struggles and pain… and I’m sure she is watching over all the elephants, both at Sanctuary and elsewhere. May her strength and grace shine through to all of them, helping them along the path. Rest easy, great Pelusa.

  12. REPLY
    Zoi Flores says

    Thank you for remembering Pelusa, a sweet a wisdom soul who sadly did not get to go to the sanctuary. Rest In Peace unforgettable Pelusa.

  13. REPLY
    Elizabeth Hook says

    I am heartbroken at the life this beautiful and majestic animal had to live.

    It is another reminder of how much sanctuary is needed before it is too late.

  14. REPLY
    JamesMichael says

    I cannot hold back the tears…this is truly heart-breaking.
    Rest forever in peace, dear, sweet Pelusa.

  15. REPLY
    Audrey says

    R.I.P. Pelusa 🌈

  16. REPLY
    Susan says

    Thank you so much for this Kat. I think of Pelusa so often and with such sadness . I can only imagine the pain you and Scott have for how it turned out. I am still devastated. I know your pain is even more heart felt. It should not have to be soooo hard and take soooo long to get these precious souls to sanctuary. I know I am preaching to the choir. Your work is so hard, I see it, I get it. You work tirelessly. There must be days that are so very hard to continue. Bless you that you never give up. You are heaven-sent. I will celebrate the victories with you and mourn for you when one passes on. What a life calling. You have a golden ticket to heaven, no doubt. Love you so much.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says


  17. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    You write so well that you bring the tears. I will say a prayer for her and hope she is in elephant heaven.

  18. REPLY
    Ernest McDowall says

    So, so sad.

  19. REPLY
    Rand Cooley says

    Whatever it takes I don’t want this to happen again and I will donate as much as I can to help any elephant and prevent this from happening again. Ele phants should live free

  20. REPLY
    Sara Dollins says

    Dear sweet soul Pelusa 🌺🌸🌺🌸🌺🌸

  21. REPLY
    dodin says


  22. REPLY
    Wim says

    Dear Pelusa, I’ve read your heartbreaking story. Horrible cruel life has treated you so wrongly. Your picture paints a trail of tears. May your elephant wings brought you to the most beautiful sanctuary in our universe. 🕯️🐘💔😭

  23. REPLY
    Luque says

    Es muy triste está historia pero murió rodeado de cuidados y amor. qui en Venezuela la elefanta Ruperta murió a los pocos días que murió Pelusa, pero su historia es más triste aún, murió sola y en condiciones inimaginables. Las dos deben estar juntas en el arcoiris allá arriba en el cielo del Santuario, observando como todas las niñas disfrutan lo que ellas no pudieron lograr

  24. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Sweet Pelusa forever in our hearts you are in a much better place free of those physical and emotional chains that you were forced to suffer with. You will never be forgotten you will always be part of the herd your family always…..🙏🐘💞

  25. REPLY
    Beji says

    Yes, I’m sobbing….RIP darling girl

  26. REPLY
    Susy says

    Pelusa conocía tu triste e injusta vida, lástima que tuviste que irte para despertar la sensibilidad de muchos. Una elefante más a mí corazón. Algún día sabré, porque las elefantas ,luego de conocer a P&G , se adueñaron de mí corazón. Acá tenés un ser más que te ama… aunque ya no estés en esta dimensión.

  27. REPLY
    Steven Woodruff says

    It is sad a zoo could have allowed her to reach a point where her life was lost. Surely they could have seen it coming and reached to you, or a similar rescue before it was too late. What were they waiting for. What other animals there are suffering an abusive endgame like this. Incomprehensible, really.

  28. REPLY
    Janine Theresa Proctor says

    That image is absolutely heartbreaking, to see such a magnificent elephant so skinny and weak! Tears are in my eyes for this beautiful elephant. I am so sad she never made it to the sanctuary, but at least towards the end you helped care for her and she finally felt love, she has filled all our hearts forever!

  29. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    Beautiful Pelusa! You will always be a member of GSE family although your physical presence is not here, your spirit is.

  30. REPLY
    Sherry says

    So sad, so so sad!! No animal should ever be in captivity!! God did not mean for his creatures to live that way.

  31. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    It gets me every time I read Pelusa’s story. One thing for certain, I looked at her today as you asked, and my, she is a cutie. She has a sweet expression in this picture.

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