Karissa Is Back and Working with Lady


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:







  1. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    You do anything to help Lady and I am sure it will work great. Lady’s feet DO need lots of treatment and that will make her feel better. Thank you all so much for what you do for the elephants.

  2. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Lady is not trusting. She had a hard life.

  3. REPLY
    Barb says

    So happy Karissa is helping Lady and do so enjoy the videos of training!

  4. REPLY
    Joann Merriman-Eaton says

    So happy to hear of this special person to work and bond with Lady. We can only imagine what Lady has been through her entire life during captivity that causes her to be so distrustful. Thank you for this specialized care and patience GSE provides as you do for all the ladies.

  5. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    Awwww, Lady looks spectacularly muddy. Thanks so much to Karissa and everyone.

  6. REPLY
    Julie says

    Some day everything good is going to click in miss Lady’s troubled soul, and we’ll all take a deep sigh of relief. Thank you, Karissa for working toward this goal, one step at a time.

  7. REPLY
    catherine says

    Muddy Lady

  8. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    I shall very much look forward to reading about Karrisa’s progress with Lady. I think we have all fallen in love with Lady and anything that Karrisa achieves with our beautiful girl, however small, will be a greatly welcomed.
    Thank you, Karrisa and thank you to everyone at GSB. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Love the photo of Lady with the carrot….sooooooo cute!!!

  9. REPLY
    Carmen Lucia Souza says

    Lady is “super, super cute with just a little bit of attitude,” I love this! Go on Lady, with your “cuttitude”.

    • REPLY
      Rosie P says

      Ahhhh, Carmen, I love this new word for Lady……..she certainly has “Cuttitude”!!!!!!!! xxxxxxxx

  10. REPLY
    Sheila says

    oh dear lil sweet lady❤️?❤️ u r abit challenging with ur fears that former bad humans gave u! i really hope and ?pray u get a lovely feeling with karissa and work hard with her to get ur feet in better order dear‼️ u r very cute. u lil lady bug❗️but u need sister friends and better feet to roam around with all the ladies new ones coming and the lovely 2 u have near u now‼️ wishing u the very best success with ladies front feet karissa?

  11. REPLY
    Muriel Servaege says

    Lady may be trremendously cute but she has awfully sad eyes. I’ll have a sigh of relief when she recovers.

  12. REPLY
    Carey says

    Thank you all for your stellar work, it will be quite something to go further in to Lady’s foot care. Thank you Karissa

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