More on Understanding Guillermina

Last week, we wrote a post about some of the changes and cycles that Guillermina has been going through and how they are impacting her relationships with the others. As you all may know, healing is not linear and Guille has an incredibly unique situation that requires deep inner work to overcome. Sometimes, instead of looking at things from that perspective, it’s simpler to seek out easy solutions – like having an elephant Guille’s age to help her get through these times. That might seem like a good idea at first, but if we had another elephant at sanctuary of a similar energy who might be hormonal at the same time as Guille, that could be a recipe for even more increased tension. It wouldn’t necessarily fix things, though that is the natural instinct for many to turn to. Luckily for Guille, she has a partner in play with Maia, who has a complementary energy that lends itself to a good (and often necessary) bit of roughhousing.

The fact is that there is no easy solution. Part of the reason that we share both the positive and challenging aspects of sanctuary is so that people can understand that healing happens on each elephant’s own time. Telling their stories gives people an idea of the depth of each elephant’s struggles and how it can take years – if ever – to recover from the trauma of decades of harmful captivity. And even though she’s young, Guillermina still has decades of difficulties to face and overcome. Being at sanctuary is a good first step in the recovery process, but every elephant has setbacks.

With Guillermina, these challenges are completely understandable. She wasn’t brought up normally. Pocha didn’t have any options on what to do with a child in a pit, so she accepted behavior from her daughter that would never be seen in the wild. The idea that she might have a setback, when she could easily also be cycling or hormonal, is not the least bit surprising. Just like any young person, she has to determine how she’s going to deal with her angst and inner issues. It’s not something that another elephant could fix. It’s true that the other girls can help guide her, but it’s more important that everyone continue on their healing journey, all while fortifying their friendships at the same time. Watching what’s currently happening with Bambi and Mara should be an example of how “best friends” can change and grow apart, and that relying solely on friendship as a healing device isn’t going to be the best approach. 

An important part of sanctuary is not only giving the elephants physical space, but also emotional space to continue to work on themselves for the length of time they’re here. Just as with people, healing, loss, recovery – these are all lifetime journeys. It’s no different for the elephants. Understanding that this time period of change and growth, painful though it may sometimes be, is part of Guille’s journey. There’s no quick fix for anything she’s going through, even if the idea of having a new friend is exciting, there’s no guarantee that anything would change for Guille. She just needs to go through this process and her herd mates will likely be there to help direct her to the next step, whatever that looks like to them.


  1. REPLY
    Nancy HartGold says

    That was a very thoughtful post and something pets owners should consider too. Some animals from rescues or puppy mills may also have trauma that takes many years to work through. The same with humans society often wants people to move on before a person feels ready

  2. REPLY
    Liora Davis says

    I so appreciate how you explain things and your sensitivity to these beings that are so magnificent and deserve so much love and care would you give. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are amazing.

  3. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Well saided

  4. REPLY
    Elaine Richard says

    They are all so extraordinarily fortunate to be under your thoughtful care in Sanctuary, where they are safe to work out issues resulting from past pain, fear, and trauma. Not surprising that having to live cooped up for years with Pocha in that appalling concrete pit caused ongoing trouble for Guille. She may not yet understand that her life from now on will be fine, thanks to you guys.

  5. REPLY
    Melissa Bureau says

    Everything will turn out well, little mouse Guille 🥰❤️🐘

  6. REPLY
    Zoi says

    My lovely Guille cannot be in a better place than Global Elephants, surrounded of beautiful people who love her. Thank you! 💓

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    Terry says

    I have learned through my years that when children and people, in general, feel safe, is when all the acting out and myriad of emotions begin to come forward. Not sure if this applies to elephants or Guille at all. I do think she feels safe, loved, and cared for as she grows.

  8. REPLY
    Diana says

    Es admirable el trato que ustedes les dan a los elefantes. Me gustaría saber qué aspectos de la conducta de Guille manifiestan sus traumas.

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