Sanctuary Celebrates the Wild at Heart

There’s no doubt that certain elements of captivity can devastate an elephant’s life. Though sanctuary is still captivity, it offers captive elephants the closest thing they will ever know to a natural life. We’ve seen healing come from true sanctuary time and again. We witness it every day. Previously, we talked about the story of Maia and Guida and how, at the circus and the farm where they were kept after, there was aggression between the two. Once they arrived at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, a relationship developed between them that was deep, sincere, and unlike anything we’ve been lucky enough to witness. The other elephants at ESB have their own stories of how sanctuary life has offered them a sense of renewal and given them the chance to nurture their Wild at Heart spirit. 

For instance, after performing for the circus, Mara lived in a zoo (which is now the Buenos Aires Ecoparque) for 25 years. Initially, she was housed with two African elephants, Kuky and Pupy. However, after an incident, Mara was separated from the others and she was restricted from being in the same space at the same time as the other two elephants. This led to a life of many hours indoors that must have felt lonely and sorrowful. After being brought to sanctuary, a relationship blossomed with Rana, who has an innate ability to build bonds with others. After Bambi’s eventual arrival, Mara found a sort-of protector and friend. Soon, Rana, Bambi, and Mara created a tight-knit group that we now refer to as “The Powerpuff Girls,” because they are so charming and close with one another. Where once Mara was alone, now she has the companionship of five other elephants; she can be outdoors at all times; she has the ability to make choices for herself for the first time. 

Guillermina was zoo-born in Mendoza, Argentina, and lived in an underground pit with her mother, Pocha, for her entire life. That is, until the opportunity for sanctuary arrived and both mother and daughter walked on natural ground for the first time (or the first time in decades for Pocha). It took time for the two elephants to get used to the elements of nature; they were tentative in exploring the habitat and creating bonds with the other elephants. Though Pocha passed away in 2022, Guillermina is growing and thriving. She had – and still has – much to learn, but the lush environment challenged her to expand her view of the world. 

The truth is that ALL captive elephants everywhere in the world have wild hearts. We will never know how deep they must bury the truth of who they really are when in sterile, dangerous, or abusive situations. Sanctuary offers them the opportunity for a reprieve; they are encouraged not to repress their emotions and to embrace the wildness inside that has always been there. 

As the year comes to a close, we are encouraging our sanctuary family to make a gift to Global Sanctuary for Elephants so that we can continue our mission of offering elephants holistic care, vast space, a herd to bond with, and the ability to choose where they go, what they do, and with whom. Maia, Lady, Rana, Mara, Bambi, and Guillermina live in a safe and enriching home. Help us continue to give them – and those yet to arrive – elements of the lives they should always have had. The elephants at ESB have always been Wild at Heart. Sanctuary inspires them to express that on every level.


  1. REPLY
    Audrey says

    Thank you, that was beautiful to read & know how much good you’re all doing for these amazing girls.
    Happy New Year to you all, with lots of love ❤️

  2. REPLY
    June Ross says

    Thank you, Sara, for this wonderful post!
    HAPPY/HAPPY 2024 to all of you who love and protect our beautiful girls!

  3. REPLY
    Julie says

    Thank you, ESB, for giving these beautiful ladies another year of sanctuary! I gave twice (your multiple emails are working). Happy New Year, ESB! And here’s to the upcoming year of sanctuary for more deserving Ellies (hopefully)!

  4. REPLY
    Jeanine says

    I love that these elephants have been saved. ❤️

  5. REPLY
    Wim says

    Thank you, this is a beautiful elephant declaration.
    Have a beautiful and safe year.

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