POCHA & GUILLERMINA made their voyage to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil in March 2022. This page is a glimpse of their journey to their new home.
Pocha and Guillermina’s journey from the Mendoza EcoParque in Argentina to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil took 5 days. View the map below to follow the route they traveled across the continent.
Pocha and Guillermina at sanctuary!
Pocha and Guillermina on their journey
Thursday, Day 6 – Final Day on the Road
Wednesday, Day 5 on the Road – in Brazil
Tuesday, Day 4 on the Road – in Brazil
Monday, Day 3 on the Road
Sunday, Day 2 on the Road
Saturday 5/7 (day we left the Ecoparque)
Tuesday: Our Team Arrives at Mendoza EcoParque
Pocha and Guillermina at EcoParque Mendoza
If we haven’t answered your question here, please feel free to contact us at rebecca@GlobalElephants.org
- How long is Pocha & Guillermina's journey?
- What occurs during the journey?
- Can they lie down during transport?
- What is time on the road like?
- Why aren't you flying Pocha and Guillermina?
- Is driving safe?
- Will Pocha and Guillermina’s caregivers be going with them?
- What will the team do along the way?
- What training is required?
- Will Pocha and Guillermina be sedated for travel?
- When will they meet the other elephants?
How long is Pocha and Guillermina’s journey?
The distance from the zoo in Mendoza to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is 2,092 miles (3,366 kilometers) and will require four to five full days of travel.
What occurs during the journey?
Many interesting things! The ESB team usually begins rescue day early in the morning, before the sun comes up when the site is cooler and quieter. Once Pocha and Guillermina are inside their container, we will load the containers onto the trucks with a crane and carefully secure it. Then, we hit the road!
Pocha and Guillermina will not be chained for the journey; they will be able to move freely within the dimensions of the containers we designed specifically for elephants—so that they can’t lay down or turn around for their own safety.
Can Pocha and Guillermina lie down during transport?
People often express concern for elephants having to stand for an extended period of time during rescues, but it is important to know that many elephants in captivity don’t lay down for years. It is a vulnerable position for elephants who may not trust an elephant enclosure-mate or caregiver, or because they are scared they won’t be able to stand back up due to a physical ailment.
Pocha and Guillermina will be able to lean on the back gate and sidewalls of the container. And the camera mounted inside the container will help us to keep an eye on their comfort level throughout the duration of the trip.
What is time on the road like?
Unless we detect a need to stop for the elephants, our usual driving schedule includes stops around every two hours to refresh water and food/produce and clean out waste. During the day, we’ll look for gas stations with adequate sun coverage to keep the elephants nice and cool. At the end of the night, we stop for several hours, depending on the behavior of the elephants, so their bodies can relax from the movement on the road. Some brace their bodies more for curves and hills and need an extended break from the road.
Why aren’t you flying Pocha and Guillermina?
The airport located nearest the sanctuary is not an option to land at, because it is not international and cannot accommodate the size of plane needed to carry an elephant, and the length of the runway and weight limit also do not meet requirements.
In addition, the takeoff and landing of an airplane can be stressful for an elephant. While they generally do well on the road because many of them have been transported this way due to a life lived on the road. For example, Bambi is an ex-circus elephant, so road travel is nothing new to her and she is expected to do well.
Is driving safe?
While we can’t fly, we do have the good fortune of the escort of a wonderful police team who make road travel as easy as possible. They watch over our caravan and ensure our safety and smooth sailing every step of the way. With two cars, the police will send one ahead to handle the red tape of the next border checkpoint, so that when Pocha and Guillermina arrive, they barely have to stop.
Will Pocha and Guillermina’s caregivers be going with them?
While it has not been decided if caregivers from the ecoparque will accompany them to the sanctuary, several ESB team members will be present with Pocha and Guillermina throughout their trip, including Scott, Ingo, and our veterinarian Trish.
What will the team do along the way?
The responsibilities of our team members will be offering Pocha and Guillermina fresh water and food produce during stops, and keeping them hydrated with juicy fruits and veggies and Gatorade as needed. We are committed to the freshest, highest-quality food for our elephants, often stopping along the way to purchase from local produce sellers or cut banana leaves and grass.
Our team also travels with a first aid kit that includes traditional medicines, IV fluids and lines, and other injectables, as well as behavior essential oils and flower essences. Elephants are extraordinarily scent-oriented, and we have found that these aromatherapies help to soothe anxiety for many passengers.
What training is required?
Like our other transfers, our team will arrive at the zoo about a week prior to moving Pocha and Guillermina. The transport container was delivered several months ago, and placed fully opened, near the boundary of their enclosure. This allowed them to explore it on their own time with no pressure from us—smell it, touch it, push on it, bump into it. Most elephants venture partially into the container on day one; it feeds their curiosity in an otherwise unchanging environment.
Although Ingo and Trish previously worked with Pocha and Guillermina at the ecoparque, over the next couple of days, we will place food and extra nice snacks in the container, where they can relax inside over a tasty meal. Eventually, we’ll close just the inside gate behind each of them for a short time, then incrementally increasing times to gauge their reaction and comfort level.
Both Pocha and Guillermina have had time to adjust to the crate and are now comfortable with going inside.
Will Pocha and Guillermina be sedated for travel?
No, we never sedate elephants for transport. Because of their sensitivity and intelligence, we have found they do much better when they are alert and aware of everything going on around them. Scott has transported approximately 50 non-sedated elephants in his career, and all have gone well.
When will they meet the other elephants?
As always, we mostly leave that up to the elephant. We expect Pocha and Guillermina to arrive at ESB in the evening. We will unload them immediately, and they will stay in the open-air barn by themselves for the night. Elephants arriving at sanctuary will usually dust first, because they feel dirty from being on the road, followed by a drink or bath, and then take a nap.
In the morning, Pocha and Guillermina will determine their next steps. We may have one elephant come up to the opposite side of the fence, careful not to overwhelm them. The new elephant’s experience is completely customized; everything functions on their time—no expectations, no set schedules. We will let them determine how introductions progress.