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