Mendoza Update



It has been a little while without a Mendoza update, but as everything with sanctuary, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything going on behind the scenes.  One of the things we knew would have to happen before we could relocate any of the Mendoza elephants was positive reinforcement training. This is because all of them will have to undergo a mandatory 30-day quarantine (at their facility), which will include required testing. All elephants will need to submit a trunk wash and blood sample, along with receiving vaccines. None of the elephants have been trained for any of these behaviors.



Training is an art form, and we don’t say that jokingly. Anyone can call themselves a ‘PC trainer,’ but for us the word positive is key. Many trainers still have an air of dominance; use negative tones and other methods that truly aren’t positive. With how protective we are of elephants, even those not at sanctuary yet, we are very selective about who we allow around them; even more so when it comes to elephants with dark pasts and who struggle with understanding mutual respect.

Karissa’s career with positive reinforcement training extends 16 years, with nine of those working with elephants. She came recommended through a friend, but that didn’t stop us from asking her a ton of questions and watching videos of her working with elephants to make sure she was a good fit. With this being the Mendoza4’s first glimpse at how future life will be different, relationships and respect were more important than results. Luckily, we get both.


Kenya at the Mendoza ZooTRAINING KENYA

If you watch the video of Karissa working with Kenya she has an easy way about her and the elephants respond very positively to it. Kenya likes to throw things, she’s not known for her tolerance (understandable), but has been a total gem and is brilliant of course. Karissa started working with Kenya first because her training wall was already built. Two of Pelusa’s caregivers from the La Plata Zoo came to work with Kenya a few weeks before Karissa’s arrival because of her tusk that grows through her skin.



While Karissa was able to work with more traditional training with Kenya, she also got to know Pocha, Guillermina and Tamy. Without a training wall initially built in their yards, she was able to do some basic staging and start working with separating Pocha and Guillermina in preparation for their travels, initially just on opposite sides of their outside space. And wonderfully, Karissa has a soft spot for Tamy, who is an elephant that is overdue for some special attention and love.

The Mendoza rescue was always going to take time. With both species and gender of elephant, three separate habitats need to be constructed to rescue all four elephants. Although these habitats cost far lest to construct than they would in other places, it is still a very tall order.

  • Pocha and Guillermina’s habitat is complete.
  • The inside stalls of Kenya’s barn are being built right now, but three shift yards will need to be completed before she can arrive.
  • Tamy’s male habitat is still in ‘dream phase’: no construction and the full cost still needs to be raised for its construction.

While there is a lot of work to be done for their rescue, everyone involved will gladly continue to do what is needed to make it happen.

September 25, 2018





  1. REPLY
    Sheila Rogers says

    I am just so happy that the necessary training is proceeding, and the Mendoza four are getting the love and attention that they’ve always deserved. I’m glad to hear that two of Pelusa’s caregivers have come to work with Kenya, as I’m sure her death hurts their hearts beyond measure. And lastly, wishing many Blessings to Scott, Kat, Karissa, and everyone who works So hard to repair all of the heartache and torment these beautiful sentient beings have survived for so very long ♥️

  2. REPLY
    Carey says

    thanks for this update, I was wondering about them. <3 Tammy too. Well done Karissa, you have a great manner with Kenya. So glad that the separation training has been going well between Guillierma and Pocha for their journey to GSE. Anyone separated an elephant mother and daughter before? Very best of luck – and "blimey". Good also to see Pelusa's ex caregivers are caring for the healthier Mendoza 4 they must be happier and training training training – great opportunity! Parabens to ALL and obrigado

  3. REPLY
    Candy Jennings says

    Heartfelt thanks for all you do❤️❤️❤️❤️

  4. REPLY
    Elke Riesterer says

    Kat & Scott – I am so thrilled for all you do and have accomplished so far. You put a lot of love into this beautiful project. KUDOS! Can’t wait to hear when the new arrivals come and able to feel the air of freedom and eventually curiousely explore the wide terrain of the sanctuary. Much, much love to you both dear kindred friends❣️

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Love to you too

  5. REPLY
    Julie Laemmerhirt says

    Love to hear about all the progress with these 4!! I did read bits about Karissa before somewhere, but not quite as extensive as what’s written here. I know all of us wish they were at Sanctuary *yesterday,* but we also know there is so much that goes into the prep in getting them there! So glad you guys are multi-taskers, getting all these important things taken care of while waiting on the big whigs (and finances)! Any plans for a specific fundraiser for Tamy’s habitat? (How exactly do you say his name, by the way?? Is it a long A sound or is it said like Tommy?) Keep up the great work!!!

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      No specific plans for funding of Tamy’s habitat. We have to raise the rest for the African fencing before we move on to him. And his name is pronounced Tammy. 🙂

  6. REPLY
    Sherry says

    OMG, what a tremendous amount of work! My loving christian spirit extends to GSFE Brazil!! All of my appreciation to you
    for caring and loving the wonderful and beautiful elephants that God has given to you to care for!!! You will have a home in
    beautiful heaven along with all of the elephants and other animals too, oh yes, they will be waiting for you at the Rainbow bridge in heaven!!
    I love reading about the happenings there at GSfE!
    Good luck and I will be praying for The Mendoza Elephants. Please everyone I am asking for your prayers. God hears all prayers.

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