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Contract Elephant Caregiver

Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE) is looking to hire an elephant caregiver to work either full-time or for multiple-month blocks at a time throughout the year. (Must be able to work regular stints of at least 8-week if PT)


GSE’s pilot project Elephant Sanctuary Brazil (ESB), the only sanctuary for elephants in Latin America, is situated on 2,800 acres of incredibly diverse property in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, and is not open to the public. Cofounded by Scott Blais, also co-founder and director of The Elephant Sanctuary in TN for over 15 years, ESB was developed from decades of captive elephant experience and the lessons the elephants taught us along the way. 

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil Aerial

Photo: Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

Recipient of GFAS’ Outstanding International Sanctuary Award, the sanctuary exists to offer captive elephants from Latin America an opportunity to live in a physically stimulating and socially dynamic natural habitat sanctuary. Caregivers play a pivotal role in the emotional and physical healing of our residents,  being noninvasive throughout most of the day, and encouraging the most important relationships: those with other elephants. Regular medical and foot care are done on the elephant’s schedule, allowing their socialization and time just being elephants to dictate the daily schedule.

Caregivers must be able to think dynamically, get to know the sanctuary elephants (both emotionally and physically), and be able to assess the impact their own actions have on the well-being of those in their care. When elephants are given true autonomy, this requires patience and flexibility on the part of the caregiver, as well as the motivation to put in the extra work required to encourage the elephants’ growth on the elephant’s time, rather than a predetermined schedule.

Caregiver Responsibilities

  • Participate with all aspects of elephant care, as instructed by directors of ESB, including but not limited to:
    • Cleaning, maintenance, and husbandry of the elephant care facilities, medical care center, habitats, and all associated facilities
    • All aspects of food preparation and collection, including cutting, branches, fresh grass, bamboo, cane, etc.
    • All aspects of preparation of medical and dietary supplementation
    • Daily monitoring, reporting, and recording of elephant and animal health and behavior
    • Participation in training and veterinary care treatments. All training will be done using positive reinforcement, protected contact training.
  • Provide regular blog/social media content updates that enable the GSE team to convey to the public the daily occurrences, physical struggles, and in-depth emotional growth and challenges that the elephants experience while at sanctuary. This includes verbal messages and updates, written posts, photos, and videos. All content must adhere to GSE’s philosophy.
  • Assist with the care, treatment, diet collection, and preparation for the captive wildlife in our wildlife rehabilitation and release program and all other resident animals (dogs, goats, chickens, etc.).
  • Assisting as required for the general development and operations of ESB – including trimming grass, working on water lines, and other tasks.
  • Possible participation in off-site activities, including consultations and elephant relocations.
  • Assist with training and guidance of new elephant care team members.
  • Assist the directors proactively with sharing information/ideas and converse with veterinary team to help advance the medical care program of ESB.

Qualifications / Experience / Skills

Due to visa limitations/requirements, applicants must have skills that would be difficult to find within Brazil. Elephant sanctuary experience is preferred, but consideration will be given to those with experience at other elephant care facilities and individuals with experience caring for other species in a protected contact sanctuary that uses positive reinforcement training.

  • Must possess a valid driver’s license
  • Able to lift and carry up to 50 lbs and perform other types of physical work
  • Able to work outdoors in all conditions, including rain and 100°F+ weather
  • Able to speak/write/understand English or Portuguese at a fluent level

Individual Requirements

  • Respect for, and commitment to, the sanctuary, the mission, and providing true autonomy to elephants
  • Comfort and self-confidence to travel internationally and immerse yourself in the unknown
  • The desire to continue to learn and be open to alternative ideas
  • Commitment to follow all safety procedures and animal care protocols
  • Willingness to live in/near a small rural community that is 1.5 hours away from the nearest small city
  • Appreciation for nature and all wildlife that call the sanctuary home
  • Willingness to live in simple housing, with no screens or air conditioning, amongst the bugs, toads, and bats
  • Ability to interact positively and work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and personalities
  • Willingness to study Portuguese (for full-time caregiver)

Salary and Benefits

  • Salary is commensurate with experience and species background
  • Free housing, internet, and utilities are provided. Living on-site includes extra responsibilities, late feeds (if needed) and security monitoring.
  • Vegetarian food/groceries are provided
  • Airfare and car service to and from sanctuary are covered.
  • Visa fees covered where applicable
  • Use of sanctuary vehicle for personal errands upon approval
  • Potential for promotion to managerial/lead caregiver position

How to Apply

CV and cover letter mandatory. Please apply here.

Cover letter should include:

  • What about our facility attracts you to the position
  • In what way you feel your views align with those of GSE
  • Details on how you feel you meet the ‘Individual Requirements’
  • Details of any specific experience of working with elephants (including, but not limited to, management/training techniques, whether free/protected contact environment, foot care, medical care, behavioral analysis, etc.) that are not listed in your CV
  • Any other details you would like to share with us that you would like us to take into consideration

Protected Contact and Positive Reinforcement Training

Elephants will be managed through protected contact: a barrier or significant space will be kept between caregivers and elephants. Caregiver safety isn’t the only consideration here; it also allows the elephants to feel they have their own space. Some elephants need this to let their guard down fully and feel secure.

Positive reinforcement will be used for all training that is to take place. Due to the physical impact of captivity, elephants need to be medically managed: health checks, blood draw, and footwork are all part of the care needed.

Most elephants in South America have never had training that wasn’t dominance-based, so it will be a new concept for many.

Instead of being punished when they don’t do something they are told, they will be rewarded for when they do something they are asked.

photo: Co-founder Kat Blais doing footwork with Lady