Male & Female Asian Elephants


Raisa passed away November 18, 2020, at the age of 49 (elephant database) after going down several times in the previous weeks and being unable to walk for days leading up to her death. The zoo stated her death was related to arthritis and old age.

Their Story

When talking about different elephants, there is always a fear of sounding like a broken record – talking about how amazing each one is – but it’s the truth.

As we talk about each elephant, describing what we know about them, how each is unique, it has given us an understanding into parents swearing they don’t have a favorite child, that they are each wonderful in their own way. That said, people usually connect with one elephant in particular. It doesn’t make any of the others less special; it’s just something about them that you identify with. They draw you in and find a place in your heart. These two elephants, Sandro and Raisa, are no exception.

Sandro and Raisa are both around 42 years of age, but couldn’t be any more different. Sandro is the very muscled, tuskless Asian male. His smile absolutely steals hearts. He’s active, cheeky, smiley, and would do phenomenal in a setting with space to explore and vent his energy. With the personality that we saw coming through, he might be a bit of a spitfire, but sanctuary is all about allowing elephants to express who they truly are. Sandro is the type of elephant who people would love because he makes it impossible not to smile when you watch him. There’s just something about him that warms the soul.

Raisa steals your heart for a different reason; she gives the impression that she has lived a very hard life. Her face appears much older than her true age. Raisa was incredibly stiff when we arrived, barely bending her joints as she walked over to her barn and stepped inside. Her movement improved somewhat while we were there, but her discomfort is grossly apparent. She stood in her sand pile for most of our visit, absently dusting; her body and spirit deserve more out of life. Raisa’s body would benefit enormously from being able to walk long distances and climb up and down hills, strengthening unused muscles in her body and lubricating her sore and stiff joints. Such simple things, along with therapeutic supplements can make a huge difference in the life of an elephant. With developed muscles, the bones aren’t just resting on their frame; the strength of their muscles adds support, taking the weight off of their joints and easing the pain they’ve felt for decades. Raisa’s tired body would find relief in a life of sanctuary.

Sandro and Raisa, 2019

Sandro, 2023

Sandro has been living alone at the zoo since Raisa’s passing in 2020.  At that time, the Public Ministry recommended his transfer to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil which reflects the consensus that Sandro’s best interests lie in a natural sanctuary environment.

Despite the initial acceptance of this recommendation by the city of Sorocaba, the decision was later reversed due to protests from zoo staff; this led to public opposition from those who wanted to keep Sandro where he was for their own viewing pleasure. However, the well-documented response from Elephant Sanctuary Brazil effectively debunked the inaccuracies raised and legally filed against Sandro’s transfer.

Moving Sandro to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil offers a lifeline. ESB’s extensive acreage, natural habitat, and holistic individualized care approach will significantly improve his quality of life. Sanctuary will provide space to roam, natural grazing, interaction with other elephants, autonomy, respect, and specialized veterinary care, all of which will address his physical and emotional needs.

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