We finally have a bit of news to share from Mendoza. As we mentioned in our last update, the pandemic has been an ongoing impediment to making firm plans about the transport of Pocha and Guillermina to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. Recently, Mendoza has also experienced a cold snap and that, in combination with the Covid-related complications, has raised the level of difficulty in preparing the two for transport. Through it all, the team in Mendoza has remained dedicated, patient, and present for the elephants.
This year, Argentina and much of the southern portion of South America have experienced unusually cold temperatures. When coming out of the barns in the morning, the elephants seek whatever sunshine they can find to warm their bodies before the next cold night. While the ecoparque does have heat in their barns, it is almost impossible to combat the abnormally cold conditions. And there is nothing quite like the feeling of sunshine on a cold winter day to make you feel warm and relaxed. Pocha and Guillermina have often chosen to forgo the special training session treats in exchange for some time in the sun.
One of the primary reasons the Argentinian government supports relocating the elephants is that many facilities’ designs, including Mendoza’s, are unable to allow for sufficient long-term care of the species. At the Mendoza Ecoparque, their limited facilities don’t allow for protected contact training sessions, unless the elephants are willing to go into the lower area of their enclosure – and that is their choice. As you have seen in photos, the enclosure is virtually all below ground level, meaning most human access is only from above the elephants’ heads, except for the two training areas and where the transport crates are located.
This week, thanks to the devotion of the Mendoza team and cooperative elephants, the veterinarians were able to collect two more of the necessary blood samples, one from Pocha and one from Guillermina. With the cold temperatures, the blood in their ears becomes more restricted and limited, making it difficult to take a good sample. The elephants were more tolerant of the procedure than in the past, and this collection marks the next milestone toward their transfer.
We would love to be able to provide you a date for when the two will be transported, but we cannot – nor would it be responsible for us to offer an estimate of time. Although 50% of the population in Argentina is vaccinated against Covid, they have a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place, and transit across the border is limited by both land and air. Please trust that everyone here and our colleagues in Argentina are looking at all possible avenues and talking to the authorities necessary to make the transfer happen at the earliest opportunity. At Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, we see great promise in the progress that is being reported to us. We know you share our optimism, but we must also remind ourselves: things happen all in their own time.
Photo of Pocha (left) and Guillermina (right) by Ignacio Blanco