Karissa is back at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil for four weeks. She is a protected contact and positive reinforcement trainer that we have worked with previously. She has worked extensively with the elephants at Mendoza on our behalf to prepare them for their quarantine periods and transports here.
She has worked with Maia and Rana on her previous trips to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, but this is her first time working with Lady. We’ve been a little curious to see how Lady would respond to a new person.
As we all know by now, Lady is a particular elephant. She doesn’t always respond well to people in general, but we have observed that Lady is more comfortable around females than males. We’ve been slowly introducing Lady to Karissa since late last week.
It’s challenging since we only have a few weeks with Karissa, and we need to balance utilizing her skills and abilities with Lady’s distrust of new people. On Karissa’s first day, she observed Lady’s routine. The second day, she fed Lady but didn’t ask anything of her. On the third day, we had her feed Lady treats during foot soaks (which is Lady’s easiest part of her morning routine).
Slowly Karissa has begun to ask Lady to do things that Lady already knows, just to set Lady (& Karissa) up for success. For example, Karissa would ask Lady to put her trunk in a typical spot, and once Lady does it, Karissa can give verbal praise and treats. It’s little things like that which help build a positive relationship.
Lady has been doing very well with it. Today, Karissa used the target pole (which is looks like giant q-tip, and provides a “target” for Lady to touch) to touch Lady for the first time. Our hope is that Lady learns to present her front feet with Karissa’s help, or at least gets further down the road with that behavior. Presenting her front feet will get us a giant step closer to giving Lady the footwork she desperately needs. And having someone here who can focus more time on this is a gift.
Karissa is already in love. She describes Lady as “super, super cute with just a little bit of attitude,” which is something Karissa (like the rest of the GSE team) finds to be very endearing. We would say it’s good to have an unbiased opinion on Lady’s cuteness… but Karissa may be as biased as the rest of us. ??
Photo: Muddy Lady with a carrot.
February 27, 2020
Read about Karissa’s previous visits and work with:
- Mendoza4 – Sep 2018
- Rana – Jul 2019 (with Scott, too)
- Maia – Jul 2019
- Rana – Aug 2019
- Mendoza4 (Kenya) – Dec 2019