Some of you have asked how it’s possible to identify the changes that Guillermina might be going through as she moves through the healing process. We have learned over the years what sorts of tell-tale signs emerge when an elephant is dealing with significant change or grief. As with any species, every individual is different, but there are multiple things we watch for that can signify changes in emotional state.
For instance, Guille tends to be a social elephant who likes spending time with her herd mates; lately she has also been seeking out some time to herself. Both of these responses are normal. However, if we witnessed a significant change in her social activity and interactions with the other elephants, that might be a sign that she’s experiencing challenges. Though her routine is currently a little different from her previous norm, if we saw further deviations from her patterns, that might be another indication of potential distress.
Simple signs like looking especially tired, a change in posture, or how Guille is moving could signal a swing in her emotional state. We also monitor appetite and look for either a reduction or increase in food intake. If Guillermina were experiencing a depressive episode, she may actually overeat rather than eat less. She enjoys food and might find comfort in eating more than normal. For now, she has stayed consistent in the amount of food and snacks she’s consuming. If her vocalizations were to change dramatically – and we have seen a decrease in Guille making as many noises as she previously did – that could signal that she’s processing something new. At the moment, Guille doesn’t seem to be looking or calling for Pocha, but she does sometimes return to the barn, which may bring her comfort.
Overall, Guillermina is doing well considering the gravity of what she has experienced in the last week and a half. We will continue to watch all of these elements to see how they change or if they change. There is potential for evolution within her grieving process which, again, is completely normal. But we’ll be keeping an eye on her not just today and tomorrow, but in the coming weeks and months as well.
Photo of Guille in the shade