Recently, we have been asked numerous times if we ever ‘pet’ the elephants here at ESB, and it’s a great educational question. The short answer is yes, but only when they initiate and desire the contact. While the question stems from a curiosity about affectionate touch, it also has a basis in understanding what protected contact management is.
As most of us know, touch can be healing. But for those who have worked with rescued animals, or people that have endured a traumatic past, touch isn’t always welcomed. There are even some of us who have never had anything bad happen to us, but still don’t want people walking up and hugging us.
One of the most significant gifts a protected barrier supports is choice. Maia loves her squishy sleepy belly rubs, and when she wants them, she comes over to the fence and asks. Autonomy is a pillar of true sanctuary, and that choice extends to human interactions. It’s not about whether we want to love on one of the girls (because yes, that desire can be strong), it’s whether that is something they want at that moment.
There is much more to it than that, which makes this old blog, a good read for those who may not know the PC/FC concept well, who are new to the organization itself, or who would simply like to fill a couple of moments reading about elephants. ❤️