This beauty with the hay baret and one ear out is Kenya, one of the Mendoza4. In December we visited the zoo to spend some more time with them (this was our second visit) and try to come up with the steps that would need to be taken to get all four elephants to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. There are numerous issues with their rescue, but two big items that have a major impact on planning: the 30-day quarantine and whether we move them all at once or two at a time. Today we’ll talk about their quarantine.
Any elephant that comes into Brazil from another country has to undergo a 30-day quarantine- this can take place at their current facility. During these 30 days, specific tests have to be run and vaccines given. For the entire protocol to be followed the facility needs to be able to perform a trunkwash test (sterile water given and collected from the elephant’s trunk), blood drawn, and injections given.
Unfortunately, none of the elephants at the Mendoza Zoo are trained for any of the behaviors and their current facilities don’t allow for the training to be done in a safe manner. These are both issues that are being worked on, but neither can be solved overnight. On top of the elephants’ relocation, the zoo is also simultaneously working on the relocation of many other species- so they are incredibly busy.
Right now we are working with the zoo to design training walls for all of the elephants. Once the designs are completed, construction is the next step. They will be relatively simple in design, so this should not take an extended period of time. After the walls are completed, someone will have to go to the zoo to train their staff how to use positive reinforcement to train Pocha, Guillermina, Kenya and Tamy for all of the testing. This is not an easy task and will depend on the elephants’ responsiveness to training, their desire to interact and how quickly they pick things up. If things don’t go well, we may need to send someone there long-term to work with the elephants and the staff to move the process forward.
The reality is that the depravity that they live in should make them fairly cooperative for training. Sessions will allow them a break in their otherwise incredibly mundane days. Tamy is an ex-circus elephant, so is likely to pick things up quite quickly. Kenya already leans into the gate and allows certain individuals to touch her ear (which is where blood is drawn from), but Pocha and Guillermina remain a mystery and may end up being slightly more difficult because of never being more than a few steps away from each other. Closing them out from each other is something that has never been done, but another task that will have to be worked on.
So although the space that would allow us to take Pocha and Guillermina should be finished within two weeks, there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done before they can begin their life at sanctuary.