It’s Not All Easy, But It’s Worth It For the Elephants

The journey to establishing Elephant Sanctuary Brazil hasn’t always been smooth, but we went into this experience with our eyes open and the knowledge that many roadblocks may lie ahead. Still, once we learned about the need for sanctuary in South America, we felt that, out of respect for the elephants who had shared so much with us in the past, we needed to honor their sacrifices and wisdom. Our hearts led us on the pathway to what is now ESB. 

Since our earliest days, we have worked closely with state and federal environmental agencies SEMA and IBAMA to ensure that Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is the best possible place for captive elephants in need of relocation. We aim to be transparent in our actions with all agencies, organizations, and with you, our supporters, at all times – including when complications arise. 

In the past, when there was controversy about Mara’s health and her alleged death (including a doctored photo of a dead elephant purported to be Mara), we acknowledged the rumors and produced live videos to show that she was alive and doing well. We assumed our efforts would put an end to these false accusations, but recently an official complaint was filed against Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, claiming that Mara was deceased and that our other elephants were diseased. As a result, both SEMA and IBAMA made official visits to the sanctuary to ensure the elephants were in good health. 

SEMA did a thorough investigation, looked over the elephants and other parts of the sanctuary, were satisfied that Mara was indeed alive (and charmingly demanding as usual), and that the rest of the elephants were well. IBAMA dealt with the official complaint against us. Their visit was detailed and they spent a good amount of time at the sanctuary. We shared the elephants’ medical records, bloodwork, and other test results with them in good faith, and they were comprehensive in their analysis. The representatives looked at the elephants, evaluated what they saw and the information provided to them, and produced a 117-page report that included observations, photographs, labwork, necropsy reports – ultimately concluding that the complaint had no validity. We are not aware of any delays in our efforts to move other elephants as a result of these inquiries.

Global Sanctuary for Elephants and Elephant Sanctuary Brazil exist to provide elephants with the best life possible in captivity, so we welcomed the regulatory agencies and were more than happy to have them spend the day with the elephants – overseeing our processes, observing how they looked, moved, ate, and socialized. We are appreciative that the agencies would take extensive efforts to ensure the elephants are well cared for, as that should be everyone’s ultimate goal. It is unfortunate that even when all parties involved – the sanctuary, government agencies, ecoparques, and supporters – are working together toward a positive result, there are others who choose to put their own agendas before the well-being of the elephants. At this point, we hope that these official visits will diffuse the efforts of those who are spreading misinformation about the reality of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil and what it means to elephants who already and will in the future, call it home. 

Each elephant deserves a life of freedom, respect, and autonomy, and we believe that ESB is best equipped to provide for their futures. Please be assured that everyone involved in the movement of elephants to ESB, including the transport of the elephants currently in Argentina, continues to work together towards this brighter future. We are hopeful and excited to welcome new residents to ESB and look forward to sharing more news with you soon. Thanks to each of you for your unwavering support and your belief that elephants deserve true sanctuary.

Photo of Maia in her lush Brazilian home


  1. REPLY
    Alana says

    You will always prevail, you are the best!

  2. REPLY
    Jen says

    I am appalled and perplexed that a person/persons do things such as this. You’d think being out in the middle of beautiful nowhere that you would be free from conspiracy theories.
    Keep up the good work. We know you love and respect the ellies and care for them in the most comprehensive, careful and loving way.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. We always want to respect the process, as everyone should understand that this is truly the best place for the elephants to live out their lives. But, it does seem to be ongoing. Thank you for your kindness.

  3. REPLY
    Kenneth B. Newman says

    No doubt, whoever filed the complaint against GSE and ESB, were either jealous of YOUR GREAT WORK, or just wanted your sanctuary closed because they wanted to start their OWN sanctuary………Very sad, but in these days of stress, covid, and dictatorships, people will do nasty things for NO reason. Maybe those who
    filed the complaints can be investigated by an outside, international organization, ( if the Brazilian authorities won’t tell you who filed them), and can reveal to the world who filed the phony complaints………..

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We are not yet aware of who filed the complaint or their motives, but all we can do is move forward and do our best to demonstrate what’s been proven: that ESB is the place where these elephants will receive the best care. We continue to hope that this will be resolved soon.

  4. REPLY
    Rand says

    I detest these phony complaints against organizations like yours. I have the utmost confidence in ESB and will contribute to funds for your defense and to PROTECT the elephants

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you for understanding our philosophy and our goals. We appreciate you and your giving spirit.

  5. REPLY
    Christine Curtis says

    How awful that someone would say such horrible things about your organization! But, what a wonderful tribute to you that those agencies saw what a great job you are doing for these beautiful creatures! Keep doing what you do! I wish there were more out there like you guys to help!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thanks for your kindness. We always welcome visits from SEMA and IBAMA, as we want to make sure they are always aware of the care we take, and let others see the land returning to its beautiful, natural state. Hopefully will be out of the way soon.

  6. REPLY
    Claudia Simpson says


  7. REPLY
    John says

    This is an amazing place. Thank you for what you do!

  8. REPLY
    Susan says

    I am so sorry that this type of thing can happen, when, as you said, people put themselves before the elephants. From the first day I happened along your website with Guida and Maia, I knew I had found a unique and wonderfully amazing sanctuary. You have been open and welcoming. I have never for a moment had any doubt about throwing my support into Sanctuary. The Elephants and all others who call ESB home, are in the best possible place. Thank you for your endless work and dedication. ❤️❤️❤️❤️🐘

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you for that reinforcement. We are confident that we are the best home for elephants in need and are always willing to open our doors to agencies. It’s healthy to keep positive relationships with them and we want as many people as possible to see the positivity here at ESB. Thank you for being such a loyal supporter all these years. We couldn’t do what we do without you and others like you.

  9. REPLY
    Deb says

    Please count me in as an UNWAVERING supporter… I would NEVER DOUBT you or your staff would be unethical in any way. I am so sorry you had to deal with this & subject the beautiful ladies to “strangers” inspecting THEIR home.
    I do appreciate that these agencies were checking up on the well being of the elephants,
    But it’s still unnerving.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you! That means so much. We will always open our doors to oversight agencies and want to solidify those relationships. Instances like these are frustrating, but hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. REPLY
    Carol says

    This is infuriating and frustrating, yet your update remains calm and informative. Kudos for that, but do we know who is responsible for this dispersion of falsehoods and “misinformation” (which is a polite word for these destructive accusations)! There must be action taken to discredit this entity permanently. What would their motive(s) be? It’s disgusting and hurtful!!!😡🤬😡🤬

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      There’s no doubt that these things are frustrating. But our ultimate goal is to remain open to questions so that there can be no doubt that ESB is the healthiest place for elephants, with experienced caregivers who understand the nuances of care. That will serve us well now and in the future.

  11. REPLY
    June Ross says

    I too know that Sanctuary is the very best place for any elephant that we can all get there. It saddens me though, that even though you welcome the agencies, it is such a waste of their time. I am sure there are many other creatures, great and small, who need the agencies help.
    Thank you for being so honest and open!

  12. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Clearly, whoever these people are, and I pretty much have an idea who they are, have interest on the elephants as “business”, not interested and their well-being. To go as far as producing a photo of a dead elephant to say that was Mara really shoes that malevolent Intentions.
    We, your supporters, are always at your side and will be there for you and our girls. ..Count on us ❤️❤️

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Your support has brought us comfort (and so much more) over the years. We have great respect for those we’ve worked with at SEMA and IBAMA and don’t have any reason to think they would not stand behind their past conclusions. And every time we show other agencies the sanctuary, there can be no doubt they see the beauty of the land and the healing environment here at ESB.

  13. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this! It’s too bad that good people who are doing what they can to make the world better should ever be treated this way. But rest assured, we know that we’re supporting an honorable organization who’s doing the Lord’s work in taking care of these so-deserving lovely ladies!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thanks for that lovely message. We will carry it forward in our work.

  14. REPLY
    Angie Gibson says

    You know what? Just keep doing what you’re doing because pursuing what is good and right and truthful will always triumph in the end; and all that matters is each one of these beautiful elephants’ lives and wellbeing. I , and all of us, your longtime supporters , trust you 100% and have peace of mind and heart that Mara, Maia, Rana, Bambi and Lady (and never to forget precious Guida and Ramba) are all always in the best hands of care and healing love and in a such a safe, phenomenal home/environment! Somehow, some way, this will all be used for good and may P & G and the rest of the deserving , very much in need Ellies, get home to ESB even sooner than expected 🙏❤️🙏 Never Give Up, Always Do Our Best! Stay strong and encouraged ESB family 💪❤️🐘🙏

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. As frustrating as it can be on occasion, we have to remember to keep positive energy and be open, because the elephants need that from us. We don’t want any negativity to impact their lives in any way. Without you and our other longtime supporters, all of whom have known and loved each elephant here, we could not have built a place that’s so well-suited for these magnificent animals.

  15. REPLY
    Andy says

    Humans disgusting behaviour exerted on animals in particular Elephants and Tigers over centuries is well documented. GSE is one of the most transparent and making a decision to donate and support them is a no brainer.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thanks for that support. We want to make sure that everyone out there knows that we welcome questions – because that can only further reinforce the fact that we are the best home for elephants.

  16. REPLY
    Tammy says

    We all knew you would pass every test they required you to and more with flying colors! We all know how amazing how loving the girls are treated at ESB or like I refer to it Heaven on Earth! Scott and Kat and your loving caregivers you’ve always given 100% to what’s best for the girls and now soon expanding for the guys. I must admit it broke my heart to read how anyone could hurl falsehoods against this beautiful sanctuary one that has taken much time even more hard work and dedication not to mention your personal lives which can’t be much all your time is given to the girls. I just wish more attention would be put on those suffering elephants who don’t have a strong voice like the one you have given to them here in South America but in places like Africa. I pray their concern goes towards the ones who honestly need it especially after reading a heart breaking 20,000 elephants a year are needlessly killed for their ivory what a tragic waste so thank you everyone we all see the hard you work sometimes I bet it’s almost 24 hours a day when unexpected weather disaster etc come out of nowhere so thank you from the bottom of my heart, Love and hugs to everyone Tammy from snowy Minnesota 😘🐘💞

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We hope that our work and our supporters can spread awareness globally. Education drives change. Luckily, there are wonderful experts out there like Joyce Poole who are doing thorough research and advocacy to make change possible.

  17. REPLY
    NANETTE Cummings says

    You are all the best of the best. God Bless you for all you do for these majestic animals.

  18. REPLY
    Juliet says

    You guys are great!!! Muito Obrigado! People ought to do research before they throw out baseless accusations or criticisms. Then there is always the political and legal stuff which I am positive is overwhelming. Those of us (like me!!!) who follow you, know. We just know. I just know. I could write an essay, but not here!!!!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you. There will always be people with their own agendas that have little to do with the well-being of the elephants. There are always technicalities behind the scenes, but our main focus will always be the health and happiness of the animals at the sanctuary.

  19. REPLY
    Hernan P. says

    You have followed your heart ❤️; that of course, has and will always lead you into the correct path 🛤 The elephants (the girls and hopefully soon the boys) have already thanked you and recognized all your effort and goodwill. The sanctuary is a dream come true; a real paradise on Earth. It is our small contribution as humanity to help heal so much indifference and injustice towards nature. Keep it up, keep going! 🙏🐘😍

  20. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    On the one hand, I’m glad there are oversight organizations which exist to make sure that organizations purporting to provide Sanctuary to animals actually do provide adequate care. I think they serve a good purpose to ensure that fake organizations, or organizations who don’t DO what they say they do, are reigned in. It’s sad that their existence is so necessary.
    However, having said that, I cannot imagine how utterly frustrating and insulting it must be for you to have to defend your animal/elephant care practices at GSE just because someone has a problem with your success. I’ve followed you – and other elephant-focused organizations, for many years, and GSE is a stellar operation. You go so far above and beyond physical care of the elephants, ensuring that they have the emotional support, safety and separate space when needed, to support their whole beings.
    Scott, Kat and team: we love you unequivocally (really, to the moon and back!) – just as we love the girls! Don’t let this demoralize you. Let it be recognized for what it is: the small mean-ness of some people who simply cannot fathom that there really are people who do good things in a great way just because it is the right thing to do. Those people who are challenging you are just miserable, ungrateful wretches with no good in their own lives. Sadly, this is the only way they can get attention. Don’t waste another minute of thought on them. We KNOW better! ❤️

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      thank you for the love. all we honestly want to do is move forward and bring a mother and daughter elephant to sanctuary. 🙂

  21. REPLY
    jean says

    Love always wins…
    No doubts what so ever!!!
    You are all 😇

  22. REPLY
    Beji says

    Sadly, there are evil and cruel people in this world. It appears that the person who did this is one of the. These people and their agenda are exactly what you’re protecting the elephants from. The haters are always going to hate. You guys have more integrity and compassion than this jerk will ever know. You are the champions!!

  23. REPLY
    Anita J says

    The complaint must have been pure jealousy. Malicious or mischievous behaviour just to cost trouble. You are so transparent with daily videos with the girls, photos and long comments what is happening. No one really would believe any negative complaints BUT if they are lodged with authorities they must be followed up, unfortunately. Was that one of the reasons for delays in transfer of Pocha & Guille?..? You had to deal with official visits, report writing and OK for business as usual? Is that correct? Does that mean that if all other paper work comes through and G & P are ready to travel all will be going ahead soon? IF that complaint was truly delaying the new transfers, that person has a lot to answer for! As it goes beyond a mischief making and becomes something more sinister. Glad that is done and dusted now and we passed with flying colours..:-)

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      no, everything is fine on our end with the relocation of P&G. it is just a combination of holidays and covid. government offices went to only being open 2 days a week and most people working from home, and then closed for over a month around the holidays- which is typical for this part of the world. Mendoza is starting up their quarantine again, the girls have continued to do well with their crates, so we are hoping to get things moving. 🙂

  24. REPLY
    Sandi Paquet says

    I know you have a lot of comments to read, but I needed to add that GSE is the best and I love what you do for the elephants; there is no reason that anyone should file any kind of complaint against you and I’m sorry that it happened. I agree that it’s time to move forward and I’m sure that everyone there will be focused on the elephants and their welfare, as it’s always been. You guys are so great! Sending hugs to you and the elephants.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      thank you.

  25. REPLY
    Wim says

    Thank you is far too small for the miracles you’re creating with the ESB family.
    I’ve reported these awful hate messages back to you.
    I’m daily on Twitter as journalist and are shocked about these attacks.
    Wish you strength and courage to stay fighting.
    Will always support you every possible way.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thanks for your constant support.

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