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Mendoza Mail – Wonderful Reminders

Here is our first Mendoza Mail from Karissa in Argentina, where she is working with the #Mendoza4 –

It was at initial sight that I was quickly reminded how special they all are. Kenya with her clever eyes and enigmatic smile, Pocha with her gentle face and hesitant but inquisitive demeanor, Guillermina and her sassy, silly, confident self and Tamy with his strong-willed but at the same time, soft and very cheeky personality.

The first few days were spent reconnecting with the elephants, assessing their previously learned behaviors and addressing some minor behavioral issues with Pocha, Guillermina and Tamy. To prepare for quarantine, there were several modifications that had to be done to gates, walls and areas surrounding the enclosures which seemed to make Pocha, Guillermina and Tamy a bit reluctant to come down into the rooms where they need to be shifted for cleaning. These rooms are also where most of the training takes place, so we want them to be comfortable and confident in them. After roughly a week, things are looking very much like how I left them the last time I was here. I am always so impressed with how much these elephants can open their hearts and trust… and the special treats can’t hurt, right?

Branches, watermelon, bananas, a honey flavored popped corn (it tastes like Honey Smacks cereal) and of course, FrootLoops are the big hits with reinforcement so far, but each elephant has their own unique way of eating their favorite treats. Fruit Loops for example, they all love them but eat them in vastly different ways. Pocha cannot get them to her mouth fast enough, she collects a few handfuls in her trunk and then forcefully sprays them into her mouth often missing her mouth but hitting herself or us in the process- Flying FrootLoops! Guillermina- Oh Guillermina, she doesn’t always eat them this way, but when she does, it makes me LOL every time! She turns her trunk upside down, takes four or five handfuls then dumps and balances the fruit loops onto the underside of her trunk while she reaches out to gather more (imagine holding out your arm, someone places your favorite treats in your hand, then you dump and balance those treats on your forearm-same arm- and hold out your hand for more)! Tamy will hold up his trunk higher and rest the underside of his trunk on a bar (I envision it kind of like a waterslide) and he will hold it there for as long as you will continue putting FrootLoops in there, he then backs up and shoots them all into his mouth at once! Kenya eats them the most “normal”, she takes a few handfuls and eats them, however she seems to get a kick out of sharing her food with her humans. One handful for Kenya, one handful for us. She watches with such pleasure and curiosity that we are eating the same food as her!

So…a great start overall, with trials and errors, failures and successes and lots of different reinforcers. With the environment these elephants are in, it is hard to not feel bad, sad or angry for them at times. But they make it so easy to love them. And loving them exactly where they are on their journey is the best reinforcement we can possibly give them.

(We also wanted to add a note from Brazil – tomorrow is the last day to purchase our limited edition Pocha & Guillermina rescue shirts, tanks, sweatshirts, and hoodies. They have different styles, colors, inclusive-sizing, and they ship internationally! Here’s the link – https://float.org/collections/gse )

Comments(12)

  1. REPLY
    Sunny says

    Yes, it is painful to see them like this. That’s why I’m grateful for the work you are doing. NO MORE ZOOS!

  2. REPLY
    Jillyp says

    Thank you so much for the first Mendoza Mail & update – it’s good to hear it’s a been a great start. I am not surprised they are all enjoying the FrootLoops, hopefully we will get to see their funny ways of eating them when they are ‘home’ in the Sanctuary ❤️🌱🐘🐘🐘🐘 🍓

  3. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Thank you sooo much for this update. I took in every word, imagining the interactions and the place they’re in. I will be donating to the wish list for these two and general needs overall, this weekend. Giving to GSE makes my heart happy. If I’m not fortunate enough to love on these elephants where they are, I can certainly love on them from afar. Perhaps fruit loops will be one of the choices this time around ;-). Thank you for all your work Karissa.

  4. REPLY
    bo says

    Lovely update about the lovely 4!
    The endless patience, the love and caring attention they receive from you elephant whisperers is surely helping them so so much and i believe a lot more than you all dare to imagine!
    Thank you from their elephant hearts, that’s what they are saying,
    i can just hear it (yes i can!) 😉

  5. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    The culture shock of Sanctuary is going to buckle their knees. Seriously, it will be other-worldly for them. I cannot wait to watch this arrival! I know it’s a ways off, but I am beyond excited 🤗

  6. REPLY
    Alana says

    Love the FrootLoop stories!

  7. REPLY
    Kenneth Newman says

    I hope the period between Guillermina and Pocha’s rescue trip ( perhaps by March 20th, 2021? ) and and the trip to bring Tamy and Kenya, (Same trip?), to GSE, won’t be too long……Perhaps by June? or even late May?
    I worry about Tamy having serious depression from NOT having his family next door to him…..

  8. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    That is a wonderful report Karissa and I am sure that all four, when they travel to GES will do very well. Two now and the other two ASAP.

  9. REPLY
    Karen Bonadio says

    I wanted to look away when seeing the elephants living below ground and knowing this has been how they’ve bern living for years. I wonder how it could be that anyone at the zoo would have felt this appropriate, or humane Where was the empathy, the human compassion?
    I am thinking that this may be the most profound & humane rescue yet by GSE / Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. 🙏🏻🐘

  10. REPLY
    Wim says

    Thank you for sharing. Clear message out of this is they are all unique persons same as all sentient beings. Bitter sweet to be there l presume.
    Stay safe and successful. 🐘

  11. REPLY
    Bonnie Butts says

    Karissa glad to hear everything is good it’s amazing that the Elephants remember you and act silly with you just goes to show Animals never forget keep up the good work and stay safe and bring those babies to their new home safety

  12. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    THANKS VERY MUCH KARISSA👍 IT SOUNDING LIKE THINGS ARE GOING VERY WELL! IM GETTING VERY EXCITED SO SEE THE RESCUE JOURNEY AS IT UNFOLDS! 🙏PRAYING THESE 🐘🐘TWO LADIES DO WELL IN TRAVELING AND TAMY🐘 AND KENYA 🐘WILL BE FOLLOWING CLOSELY TO BRAZIL! THESE POOR ELEPHANTS HAVE SO LONG AND BRUTALLY! I LOVE ❤️THEN THEY ARRIVE IN BRAZIL 👍SANCTUARY! ITS SUCH A DIFFERENT WORLD FOR THEM AND THEY SEEM TO BE IN MAJOR AWE FOR A TIME! UNTIL THE OTHER LADIES TELL THEM. “ YES THIS PLACE IS OUR HEAVEN”🙏. THANK YOU FOR TRAINING POCHA and GUILLERMINA!

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