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Trainer Karissa Guest Post 2: A Productive Trip


Karissa has left the sanctuary to head back to her home in the US. We are grateful for her time and hard work with the girls. She wrote one last post before she left. Next time you hear from Karissa, she will be in Mendoza getting Pocha and Guillermina ready for their trip to Brazil. We still don’t have exact dates for her and Chrissy’s trip, but will share when we know more.

From Karissa:

I am sad to say tonight is my last night here, at least for this trip. It was a short trip, but I believe a productive one. I would like to share a little (long) update with you all before I go.

Lady and Rana had their fair share of training sessions. Foot soaks and fine-tuning their rear foot presents were the main focuses. They both know how to present their hind feet but are sometimes so eager to show you what they know before you even ask. Rana is so funny that if you are taking too long to start the session, she will randomly present one of her feet and look at you as if to say, “I’m ready whenever you are.” Needless to say, Rana and Lady both did fantastic with their sessions.

Maia beats to her own drum. She is a smart cookie and knows the behaviors she needs to know at this point in the game. Maia is happy to come over and get extra treats, so I was glad to do this when she showed interest. But she spent most of her days doing what she does best: mudding, grazing, and napping. Today I caught her napping by one of the water troughs, but she quickly got up when she heard the four-wheeler (as that usually means snack time).

Mara is quite sweet. As mentioned in previous posts, she has not been feeling quite herself and has had a very selective appetite. I did little formal training with Mara, but I spent a lot of time with her throughout the days determining what the food of the day, hour, or minute was. Watermelon seemed to be almost always a win, even though the way she ate it varied. Sometimes, it was the whole watermelon. Other times, it was only the good stuff, leaving the rind for someone else. Occasionally, she did the old watermelon drive-by (walked over, grabbed her watermelon from me, and took it for the road). She’s cute that way!

And now, Bambi: Miss Crazy Trunk. Don’t worry; she still has a crazy trunk. However, it’s starting to become calmer during sessions. She begins with her crazy trunk but then quickly remembers she gets more treats with a calm trunk. Duration is still very short, but now she is getting the hang of it. My other focus was helping her to be more comfortable in the medical chute. She would walk through and even stay when both sides of the chute were open but appeared nervous to enter if one side of the chute was closed. I am happy to report that she is now going into the chute with one side closed. She is still nervous at times, but repeatedly entering and exiting the chute during sessions has increased her confidence. So it is kind of like a double reward. When she comes in the chute and stays, she is rewarded with giant fabulous treats. Then we go out of the chute, and she is rewarded by getting to look around and see what is going on. Then, we go back into the chute for more substantial treats. At this rate, hopefully, she will be relaxing in the chute with both sides closed soon!

As for me, I’m sad. I’m sad to leave because I won’t get to see the girls every day. I won’t get to see their progress with training or how their relationships evolve. I won’t get to be silly with them and watch them be silly together. It is a “selfish” sad, not a “feel guilty for leaving them” sad. It could never be that kind of sad because they live in this beautiful place. They have an amazing, dedicated, and talented team (including Kat and Scott), they have sanctuary… and they have all of you! Until next time…

Video is one of Bambi’s training sessions with Karissa. They are working on Bambi becoming more comfortable in the chute.

Comments(20)

  1. REPLY
    Patricia Aguilar says

    Makes me cry that there are such good people such as all of you in the world.

  2. REPLY
    Sue says

    Thank you for your posts and your work with the girls, Karissa! Happy at least knowing that the next time we hear from you, it will be when P & G are closer to coming home! ❤️🐘❤️

  3. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Thank you for taking the time to help them. It will be exciting when you get to see them again and the progress made.

  4. REPLY
    Heather says

    I guess that means Pocha and Gulimena have been pushed back. Again.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      We are just waiting for approval for Karissa and Chrissy to enter Argentina. US citizens are not permitted to enter, due to COVID-19, so they need special permission. And as with everything government related, that takes time. There are several teams working on approval. In the meanwhile, we felt it was a good use of the time we need to wait, to have one of them come to the sanctuary to work with our girls.

  5. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    What a great video! We are sad to see you leave also…but you did a good job while you were there. Thanks for sharing more about Bambi.
    Safe travels. We look forward to the next RESCUE!!!

  6. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    Karissa, Thank you for your work !

  7. REPLY
    Sunny says

    OMG! The emotion I felt when I read ‘Next time you hear from Karissa, she will be in Mendoza getting Pocha and Guillermina ready for their trip to Brazil.’ is priceless XD

  8. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Thank you, sanctuary and Karissa, for taking such good and loving care of the elephants. They love their home there at sanctuary!! Thank you all of your hard work and patience with the elephants. The work pays off for the elephants and sanctuary. Thank you too for sharing everything with us the people who share with you!!!

  9. REPLY
    Beji says

    Just a wonderful antidote to the horror that’s happening here in the USA! Sweet and precious. ‘Nuff said.

  10. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Thank you, Karissa, for your posts and we look forward to your return with Pocha and Guillermina, and hope you are able to stay longer with us at GES. XXXX

  11. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    THANK YOU KARISSA👍🙏 A NICE REPORT ON THE LADIES! OH YES ID HAVE A HARD TIME LEAVING THEM TOO! WAS HOPING LIL LADY WOULD BE JOINING THE REST OF HERD??
    YES THIS BIG SWEET BAMBI IS A FUNNY GAL! SHE WAS SO DEPRESSED AT THAT ZOO FROM WHERE SHE WAS PRISIONER! IM SO HAPPY SHES EXHUBERANT BUT I THINK MAN TIMES BAMBI JUST IS PLAYING WITH STAFF! IM SURE SHES OVER THE TOP TREAT MOTIVATED BUT MAYBE IN HER MIND SHE THINKS SHES HEADED BACK TO THE EVIL CIRCUS!👎WELL I HOPE STAFF WILL KEEP TRAINING HER ALONG WITH RANA. AS BANBI MAY NEED SOME TOENAIL TRIMING OR A GOID FOOT SOAK! HOPING BAMBI CALMS DOWN SOON!! VERY HAPPY UR GOING TO TRAIN POCHA AND GUILLIE👍👍BEST WISHES TO U KARISSA‼️😀

  12. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    A wonderful post on these beautiful girls. Each one different, each one beautiful. Safe travels, and looking forward to seeing updates on Pocha and Guillermina. Absolutely cannot wait for them to join GSE. 🐘♥️

  13. REPLY
    Danielle says

    Kind of a morbid question but can you diagnose cancer in elephants? I’m just thinking about Bambi and her weight loss and Mara and her appetite. And if not- what can be done?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Not definitively. Each case is individual and you try to address symptoms and manage pain as you go.

  14. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Thanks for the lovely post and allowing us in on your training sessions, Karissa. Appreciate all you do for these lovely ladies and looking forward to the next update as you help to prepare Pocha and Guillermina for their trip to Brazil. I’ve been thinking of them and I can’t wait for them to experience their new lives together at the sanctuary!!

  15. REPLY
    Sallie says

    Karissa, you are an Angel, and I know elephants are emotional beings – who love unconditionally – those they care for, including humans. The Girls will look forward to your return with enormous affection and love! They remember EVERYTHING! And they know you will be seeing them soon enough . . . Thank you for your patience and all you have done to make each of them to feel so special . . .

  16. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    Thank you, Karissa, for all you have done. Bambi looks great and such good progress with her. We shall look forward to your return.
    A lovely post and video and update on the girls.

  17. REPLY
    Lane says

    This video is just beautiful: The sky, the birdsong, the human voice, an elephant’s flapping ears. Loved every minute of it. Thank you.

  18. REPLY
    Carey says

    loved this video Karissa, thank you! Glad to hear of your progress with Bambi, who is sooo tall!

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