Insight on Caregiver Interviews

At the moment, we are hiring caregivers at the sanctuary in Brazil, which has a unique set of challenges. It is always interesting to have people come to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil and find out what their perceptions are after just seeing or reading about it on social media, versus what it’s actually like here on a daily basis. We know that whatever we try to express, words can’t do justice to what you feel when you’re on the property. 

Sometimes people arrive already knowing how to identify the elephants, while others go the complete opposite direction and spend more time on their phones than they do watching a treatment session. It seems that people often have preconceived notions about what sanctuary life is like, then they get here and find it to be incredibly different. During the interview process, we ask people the question: What are you surprised about now that you’re here? And one of the most consistent things we hear from applicants is: the bond between caregivers and elephants. Our caregivers must have a level of flexibility and depth that allows the elephants to be vulnerable as part of their healing process. 

But the relationship between caregiver and elephant should never be the most important one to focus on – that would be what goes on among the elephants themselves. But human bonds are created over months and years and are not something a new caregiver would automatically have. The elephants at sanctuary don’t love or trust us instantly, regardless of what people may think. We all, humans and elephants, have to work on building trust. So, any new caregiver would have a lot of emotional work to do before they’d even be able to do basic tasks with an elephant. We talk about staying open when working with elephants, and you have to be in that mindset as much of the time as possible. 

Photo of Guillermina and Bambi waiting together for Bambi’s treatment along the fence line


  1. REPLY
    Robin Vitulle says

    What an HONOR it would be to have this opportunity to build relationships with the elephants. Patience and open hearts… understanding and kindness… soft voices and gentle body language… and the LOVE for these gentle giants, are the ingredients for a chance to build bonds. What I wouldn’t give to have this moment. The elephants sense your soul’s intentions and will let you know when, if ever, you are accepted into their trust.

  2. REPLY
    Silvana Soranna says

    Excelente. Eso conversé con mi amigo argentino Germán Romo (@Gerturu en twitter), quién se postuló en anterior iniciativa para cuidador y tareas generales en el santuario. Si bien calificó para el puesto (pero no lo han contratado aún), aunque nunca cuidó elefantes, su amplitud conceptual respecto a lo expresado en el post, coincide 100% con vuestra visión. Sueña con esa vida allí con el propósito de aportar a la CAUSA! Sabe que es capaz de aprender porque tiene mucha noción y es sumamente proactivo. Gracias por su esfuerzo en dignificar la esencia de estas maravillosas criaturas

  3. REPLY
    Carey says

    Very interesting thank you. Are they internship jobs or paid jobs? just wondering because internships mean the applicants have to have an independent source of income?
    The photo of Guille waiting with Bambi for Bambi’s treatments is funny, I know you’ve talked about Guille wanting to be part of the treatments and this made me smile seeing it!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      it’s a paid position. at this point we don’t have an internship program, although we would like to have one set up by the end of the year. but either way, if a person doesn’t respect their time with Lady, it’s a definite no, even if they paid us to work here.

  4. REPLY
    Lara Anderson says

    I cannot imagine being on a cell phone at any time working at your sanctuary. This is a precious gift to even be able to look at an elephant. I have a severely abused (rescue) dog. It is very true, that is takes patience and time, as she learns how to trust and love again. It is a hard, but miraculous journey.
    It is similar with abused horses, you must show up and be present, in the moment. I would love to learn how to help them heal and build mutual trust.

  5. REPLY
    bo says

    “while others go the complete opposite direction and spend more time on their phones than they do watching a treatment session.”

    huh ??
    how could you ever want to look or listen to anything other than the elephants once you are given the ‘job’ ??
    i would be too smitten and would not take my eyes off of them.
    only to sleep…and even then 😉

    surely you will find the perfect soul for the best ‘job’ in the world!

  6. REPLY
    Johnny says

    Great information. You always keep us followers engaged, it’s a delight to see what will pop up next.

  7. REPLY
    Sheila says

    If caregivers r on cel phones so much. They don’t deserve to be chosen to be at sanctuary!! Of they have a very urgent family matter. This would be appropriate. During time they have chores or treatments with ladies. NO ACCEPTABLE! THE LADIES. RE NO 1.

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