Mendoza Mail: Our Expressive Guillermina

A couple of weeks ago, we posted a Mendoza Mail from Chrissy of Pocha and Guillermina making their silly noises – a series of rumbles, growls, trumpets, squeaks, squeals and my personal favorite, Pocha’s bark. (I call this her sea lion vocal.) Guillermina tries to replicate this, but usually only gets one or two “barks” out until it turns into a higher pitched longer squeak.

Pocha is very vocal, but it is almost always when the two are having their little parties together. Guillermina, however, will make some of her signature sounds on her own, but they are often done with purpose. For instance, if you surprise her, she will sometimes let out this longer, higher-pitched squeak or a couple of short squeaks. She also makes this honking noise, which we most often hear when we are working on separations.

Guillermina will separate great, but every now and then she will let out this honk and Pocha will leave her trainer and go running to Guillermina. Last year, I did a needle stick withdraw on Guillermina’s ear to assist in preparing her for a blood draw, which is required for quarantine. She did great for the behavior and received a ton of special treats, but then suddenly backed up a little, touched her ear with her trunk and let out this super long high-pitched squeak. Sounds are hard to describe in writing, but it sounded something like the whistle on an old-fashioned tea kettle when the water starts to boil (Eeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr). She made this sound for about 30 seconds straight while she held her ear and stared at me. She then went over to her mom for a minute, let out a few short squeaks, came back to me (still holding her ear), leaned right back in and allowed me to check her ear. I guess she decided it was worth it for the extra treats.

Quite possibly, my favorite story of Guillermina’s sounds just happened the other day. Chrissy was working with her at the training wall and I was going to do the desensitization for blood draw, vaccinations, and microchip (all behaviors required for quarantine and transport). Esteban, one of the elephant caregivers here, was working with Pocha on the other side of the room. This main training wall where we were standing is on a slope, and right now it is wet and slippery. In all my times at that wall, I have managed to never fall, but that day I was not so lucky.

Chrissy had just called Guillermina over and was giving her some treats and I realized I forgot something. As I turned to run back and grab it, down I went with a big loud smack as I hit the ground. Guillermina backed up, lowered her head, let out this squeak and then another one and another one. She then left Chrissy, went running over to her mom and squeaked again. Next thing I know, Pocha left Esteban and both Guillermina and Pocha were at the training wall where I fell, intermittently making squeaks, heads lowered, ears out, staring at me.

Once Pocha arrived and both elephants were making noises, Chrissy and I assured them that everything was okay, and we were eventually able to continue with our session – but not before both girls ran back to Esteban to make noises at him as well.


Photo of Guillermina in the training room.


  1. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    This is very adorable! Seems like she understood your fall?
    They will have sooo mane reason to vocalize when they arrive at SEB ! George, Alma, Milo, the birds etc and all the resident ladies ❤️

  2. REPLY
    Holly O'Brien says

    These stories make me so happy.
    Thanks for all you do. Can’t wait to get these 2 to Brazil

  3. REPLY
    Mary says

    I love hearing these stories of mother and daughter. I wish that I could watch and hear a video. Mainly just hearing these noises. I can’t wait to see them at the Sanctuary.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      There is a blog from last week that has a video of them vocalizing. 🙂

  4. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Awe it’s like they were checking to see if you were okay. Bless them. The barking reminds me of Tarra.

  5. REPLY
    Carol says

    So sweet

  6. REPLY
    Bill says

    Sounds like a special song of joy of just being in the world. And, then a bit of concern for their “friend” after the fall.

  7. REPLY
    Patricia says

    From the minute I first saw P & G’s picture, I knew these girls were real special. Yes, they are all special, but this mom and daughter just had such a look of adorable goofiness! I can only imagine what they will do when they get to sanctuary! ??? Sara, Chrissy, and everyone on the training team—I am in awe of you. I send a heart full of love and prayers for a blessed transition for everyone. ???

  8. REPLY
    bo says

    melt melt melt, how can you not just totally want to comfort those two sweethearts (all elephants of course)
    so worried how they will deal with being seperated but am sure the entire team will do everything possible to calm them down, comfort them as good as possible and yes, as Kat already explained, trying to let them see/hear/smell each other during the transport-trip as often as possible, if only you could tell and explain them why and how long the trip is and that they are going to paradise for elephants!!

  9. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    These girls are going to have SO MUCH to talk about, and then………… many more girls to talk with. I can’t wait.

  10. REPLY
    fernande poitras says

    Vous faites un travail exceptionnel vous lire m impressionne toujours

  11. REPLY
    Sallie says

    LOVE the squeaky sounds! So little time, so much to say! How adorable, squeaking in sympathy for a human fall! Elephants are soooooo like humans . . . Perhaps more caring than most . . .

  12. REPLY
    SHEILA says


  13. REPLY
    Susan Flewelling says

    May I just ask what condition the feet of the four elephants scheduled for rescue are in? I’ve noticed over the past months that I’ve been following this great sanctuary (since Ramba’s rescue) that most arrive at sanctuary with, among other issues, major foot problems. No rush for a response – but it seems with every photo my eyes go directly to their feet!

    • REPLY
      sara says

      We still have a lot to learn about their health statuses, since we have been unable to evaluate them safely, up close. We anticipate they will have similar issues to those who have spent a lifetime on hard, unnatural surfaces. Tamy appears to have some sort of emerging issue – perhaps arthritis – but again, there is no real way to know until they are at sanctuary. We are anxious to evaluate each of them.

  14. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Susan; when elephants arrive I also look at their feet so see what condition they are in. Sometimes new arrivals have feet that can only be treated so far, as their condition will never get completely healed. But we do know that in time their feet will be easier to live with but never healed completely.

  15. REPLY
    MARCIA says


  16. REPLY
    Kenneth Newman says

    What is meant by the 30 day quarantine that Pocha and Guillermina have to do in order to come to GSE? They have NO contact with other animals? or any humans, even their trainers? or their keepers in their present location? How will they be fed and cared for during the quarantine? Do they have to stay inside their current location, and NOT be outside? Can you please explain this particular quarantine? And will the GSE trucks and the crates needed to hold them during the 5 day trip back to GSE, will the drivers/ staff be ready to drive / leave as soon as the 30 days is over? What does the time line look like? Late April for the drive back?

    • REPLY
      sara says

      Quarantine is required for transportation for all animals. All of our girls have gone through it. It is intended to make sure they are free of disease that might impact other animals they may come in contact with. Due to logistics, it may be a few days more than 30, as was the case with Mara. They will have contact with their Karissa and Chrissy, who will perform medical tests along the way. Their lives really won’t change, except there will simply be extra security to keep non-essential workers and animals from getting near. In this case, the trucks will likely be there in time to transport them once quarantine has been completed. As always, we try not to provide exact timelines so that we can take into account any unexpected happenings along the way. Rest assured that both Pocha and Guillermina will be allowed both inside and outside time during quarantine.

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