Mendoza Update: Pocha and Guillermina’s Progress


As we mentioned in the live video yesterday, we wanted to share updated information on Pocha and Guillermina in Mendoza. Trish and Ingo traveled to Argentina and, after a period of quarantine, were able to go to the ecoparque. Their intention was to assess Pocha and Guillermina’s comfort with the crates and see if it would be a possibility to transport them this week. After the first day of observation, it was clear that things weren’t going to happen overnight.

While Pocha is fine with entering the crates, Guillermina is more cautious. Unlike most captive elephants, who have been exposed to traveling and different spaces, Guille has only known her home in Mendoza and the concrete walls that surround her. It is more of a leap of faith for her to trust that what is on the other side of this journey is something good, something life-changing. 

As those of you who have followed our past rescues know, the process of getting elephants used to the crates is passive and dictated by the elephants. Not only do we want them to be comfortable entering the crates, but we also want them to be relaxed when eating and just being in them as well. The amount of time this takes is different for every elephant. For example, Guida walked in right away, stopped stereotyping for the first time we had seen, and was ready to go immediately. Bambi, however, needed more time and confidence to trust and put that last foot in. 

It became clear yesterday that Guille is going to need a little more time, and that is just fine. Although we would love to have them here immediately, the first association they have with sanctuary should be about patience and respect. An essential part of showing them respect is displaying that we hear what they are telling us and communicate to them that their feelings matter.

Although this causes a slight delay in the process, the last few days have reminded us of some beautiful and essential things. It brought back to the forefront how important it is to remove our expectations from the equation and make sure the elephants are at the center of the process. There are sometimes outside pressures to meet benchmarks within a certain timeframe, but even a slight compromise in allowing things to be on their terms is just that, a compromise. Our philosophy has developed over the years because the elephants we have cared for and adored have taught us what they need. These lessons have never failed us in the past and we will continue to follow them in the future.

With that being said, Guille and Pocha confirmed what our hearts already knew: respecting their emotional state will result in more profound progress than anything else. Last night, Pocha continued to easily enter the crates and Guille started to follow her in, relaxing into the process. Late into the evening, the two were comfortable enough to take a standing nap with Pocha in the first crate and Guille halfway in the second. This display of comfort was all we needed to see to know that, with some time and a little more confidence, the ladies will do just fine. And, of course, at the end of their road trip, lies all of the beauty and healing of sanctuary. 

In keeping with this philosophy of letting the elephants lead, we don’t have a specific time frame for their move. But we are hoping that within a few weeks, both Pocha and Guillermina will display an ease that makes everyone feel comfortable with taking the next steps. We will keep you posted, but there will probably not be much to update, other than the occasional news about their movements within the crates. We will share some photos and videos as they progress.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our organization and made Pocha and Guillermina’s relocation possible. We are also thankful for the wonderful support team in Argentina that includes the staff at the park, government officials, and legitimate animal groups. And to our supporters in Argentina who show these elephants you have long cared for such selfless love by advocating for their journey to sanctuary, we thank you for your grace, your unflagging support, and your understanding that a better life awaits. Elephant Sanctuary Brazil looks forward to sharing both elephants’ journeys with you as they continue to grow and thrive. 

Video of Pocha, comfortable in her crate and giving herself a dust bath


  1. REPLY
    Nannette Stone says

    Thank you for the update. Time and understanding is the most important thing for their confidence, trust and comfort

  2. REPLY
    Susan Flewelling says

    Once they start the journey home, can you estimate how many days they’ll be on the road?

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We opted to share few details of the transport for a number of reasons, including the safety of our staff in this particular case, and because we do not know if Pocha and Guillermina will require more stops than usual due to their unique situation. Once they are on the road, we will be sending updates often!

  3. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    For any worthwhile goal – one that really matters, like this one – progress is uneven. Adhering to your time-proven experience and practice is the absolutely right thing to do. I applaud your patience and I’m sure this is the right approach.
    Of course we’re all anxious for them to arrive but we just need to remember: it’s all on Elephant Time! ❤️🐘🐘❤️

  4. REPLY
    Carol says

    And we are all behind you and trust your good judgement💯! Patience and fortitude as always. 🙏🏻👍🏻😘

  5. REPLY
    Patricia says

    Thank you with all my heart for this update! I am thrilled to see that Guille has made a bit of progress with her crate! It’s hard to be patient sometimes, but you guys are the experts and I am so grateful for your love and care for these girls. My prayers never stop for these angels and for all of you at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. Love to everyone, elephant and human and anyone else involved!

  6. REPLY
    Caroline says

    Why not put one of the crates in Kenya’s yard and get her on the road to sanctuary, while P&G are still getting used to the other crate? Trying not to be too pessimistic but it feels like it will be a long time before they’re ready.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We don’t believe that Kenya will take long to train. However, GSE does not yet have approval for her enclosure and Kenya does not have a permit to be moved. These things take quite a bit of time under normal circumstances and seem to be delayed further by Covid. We don’t think it will take too long for Pocha and Guillermina to be ready but, if they are going to be ready soon, we need to focus our efforts on them and not shift focus to Kenya.

  7. REPLY
    Anita J says

    The short video of action in that crate was AMAZING to see! Pocha looks VERY ready for her adventure! I am sure she KNOWS change is coming! Guille WILL follow her Mum. My concern is only that they may get bored with the crates and not enter them at all! But I am sure the experts on the ground think about all possibilities AND taking precautions for this not to happen! The available sand for dusting, delicious food treats in those crates etc etc….I never ever dreamt I will LOVE those metal so much!! Hahaha..:-)))….Even though you sound very cautious as well, I still think they may be ready over night like…all of a sudden. And it will be days and not months till they are move! Bambi took seven days to settle and to treat that crate like extension to her barn! And she was so so fearful! I am full of positive thoughts and am sending heaps of good karma to our girls! The time is near…xoxoxoxox

  8. REPLY
    Sherry says

    WOW, these elephants are lucky to have GSE who cares about their lives!! It is quite the experience to watch
    all of this happen!!

  9. REPLY
    Pierrette Walraevens says

    Thank you so much for this update. So happy to hear it was easy for Pocha to go in 👍❤️ with Guille I tought so as you say she was born their never saw the outside but I now with some training and love she will and to hear Guillermina has made some steps already that’s a good signé 👍 With more time and Love she will and can do this ❤️ Go Sweetie you can do it 🥰🐘🥰 Thank you all fof you you guys are Fantastic and Thanks again for this update ❤️ Go Pocha Go Guille 🤞❤️🥰🐘🐘😘🥰❤️

  10. REPLY
    Carmen Lucia Souza says

    Thank you for this WONDERFUL work! We are confident the way you work is the best for our beloved elephants.
    We follow with the herd!!!

  11. REPLY
    Terry says

    When Guille is ready, we are too!! Not a trunk sooner!!! Such fine work and training given all the cautious steps needed for both!! ” Patience is a virtue”. Guille, we have our hearts around you…❤🙏❤🙏

  12. REPLY
    Joan B. Groat says

    Love and patience! Cannot wait, but will be a nervous wreck till journey is over, my prayers for all!

  13. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    this is so encouraging! Thank you for the progress report! I’ll keep on praying for continuing success!

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