We are lucky to have a dedicated team of caregivers, with hearts and minds open to learning what it takes to provide true sanctuary for the resident animals. The idea of “sanctuary” is more than just providing a beautiful habitat, but is also about developing deep relationships and comprehensive understanding of the nuances of elephant behavior and care. Each individual animal has different needs and those must be respected and addressed in a specific way, tailored to the healing journey they are on.
On the surface, learning the technical steps of what to do (and what not to do) are relatively easy; understanding why things must be done in a certain way can be more challenging and take time and dedication to understand. Simply learning to step back and show an elephant you are listening and paying attention to their needs can make all the difference in whether trust will be built. This is a journey for both the caregivers and the elephants.
Building the sanctuary here in Brazil has been a dream, but it hasn’t been without its many challenges. Sometimes the hurdles have seemed overwhelming, and the staff (particularly Scott and Kat) find themselves taking on a less-than-ideal number of tasks. Because Global Sanctuary for Elephants has long-term plans for several rescues in the works, we have to be reasonable about what can be accomplished by a small number of people. Scott and Kat spoke to our board of directors, and some friends and colleagues about the need for a new, experienced caregiver and team leader that would be a good fit for Elephant Sanctuary Brazil – someone who could help us develop our staff to reach its full potential. We take this very seriously, because it is essential for such a person to understand more than the technical aspects of care, but to also be attuned to the teaching component and the emotional aspects.
After some discussion, Dr. Joyce Poole provided us with a lead on someone who we were somewhat familiar with, and who had left a deep impression upon us. After a conversation with Ingo, the elephant caregiver in question, we felt as though we’d all known one another for ages. Through conversations, he shared with us his views on elephants, sanctuary, and recovery; he talked about his own struggles with past work in captivity and what he hoped to be able to provide to an organization, and to the lives of the elephants in their care. In essence, Ingo shares the same dream that urged us to begin this process years ago. We didn’t know that such a person existed.
We promise to share more about Ingo as he becomes part of our team, essentially jumping into the deep end of the organization and helping us all to keep our heads above water. Until then, welcome Ingo. The GSE family is happy to have you.