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Trainer Karissa Guest Post, Bambi’s Adorable Silliness


Karissa, who as we recently mentioned is here for a few weeks, wrote a guest post for us today, and even filmed this lovely video! Enjoy!

Nine months. Nine months of no elephants for me—the longest period since my work with elephants began 11 years ago. It was a rough nine months; I am not going to lie. Words cannot really describe how grateful I have felt in the time leading up to now, knowing I would have the opportunity to help with Maia, Rana, and Lady once again and to meet Bambi and Mara. Seriously, how lucky am I to spend time with such amazing souls in this magical place at the most magical time of the year? Cheesy right? But that’s how I feel.

When I visit, Kat and Scott have goals in mind for me, a couple of specific items usually related to one or two of the elephants. However, this is sanctuary, and we are all on elephant time, meaning goals and focus may change depending on the needs of the girls. For this trip, my focus is on Bambi. But don’t worry; I still get to spoil all the girls with special time and treats.

Details about Bambi I was given ahead of training: she is sweet and excited—so excited to make new friends, an extremely fast walker, and has somewhat of a short attention span and, my personal favorite, an exceptionally long, wiggly, semi-out-of-control trunk (nose). Kat and Scott have mentioned this in posts before, but in case anyone forgot, it is important to train for a trunk target, which assists in medically necessary procedures like blood draws, foot work, eye treatments, and more. A trunk target is holding the palm of your hand out in a specific area and training the elephants to touch and hold the end of their trunk on your hand. This is done for safety because the trunk is extremely strong, and it is nice to know where it is at all times. Unsuccessful trunk targets will also let the trainer know if the elephant is uncomfortable in any way with the situation.

Okay, back to Bambi. She is simply great! For the first two days, the sessions with Bambi were just meet-and-greets and working on her “calm” trunk. Although very early in the training, she is getting the hang of it! Bambi is food-motivated, so generally you would think the awesome, giant pieces of treats alone would be enough to incentivize her “calm” trunk, but since her trunk is more “crazy” than it is “calm,” the combination of concealing those giant treats during “crazy” trunk and then presenting the giant treats for “calm” trunk seems to really click with her. (Do not be alarmed! Even with “crazy” trunk she gets treats for trying; they’re just not as awesome.)

Now, let’s talk about her attention span. This makes me smile just thinking about it. She listens to everything—chickens, tractors, ATVs, faraway conversations between people, other elephants, our radios! She must stop and listen to any noise she finds relevant. She cannot focus on any training until she decides she has heard what she needs to hear. And sometimes hearing is just not enough. Temptation gets the best of her, and she must go see what is happening for herself. As someone who suffers from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), I can relate to and adore this quality about her! With time, understanding, and patience, Bambi will undoubtedly be a rockstar student.

Today, Bambi spent the day with Rana. Every time I thought about starting a session with her, she and Rana were doing something cute together. So we just let them be. That is the beauty of sanctuary.

I am overwhelmingly honored that Kat and Scott trust me to be a part of this journey, but even more so that after all these elephants have been through in their pasts (neglect, abuse, trauma, solitude, and more), they are open to trusting me and allowing me to be a part of their stories. I am forever grateful.

Please enjoy the cute video of Rana and Bambi hanging out together after a nice rainstorm.

Comments(20)

  1. REPLY
    Nannette Stone says

    What beautiful comments about sweet Bambi. She’s just too adorable. Love ‘Crazy Trunk’. Enjoy your time with the girls and thank you for all you are doing

  2. REPLY
    Sallie says

    THANK YOU, Karissa for the lovely vid! I guess a little “side kick” is better than holding a mirror to check for breathing – especially in a mud hole . . . I am so happy you enjoyed your stay and made some gains with Miss Bambi (fingers crossed). Love the “crazy trunk” and “calm trunk” phrases. I personally know of the tough love a “crazy” swinging trunk can inflict! Best to hold “hands” when your favorite elephant wants to stroll with you. Best Wishes for a Safe & Sane 2021.

  3. REPLY
    SHEILA says

    AAAHH NICE TO SEE RANA🐘 LYING DOWN FOR A NAP DURING THE DAY‼️WELL NOT SURE IF BAMBI LET HER SLEEP MUCH FROM PHOTO! MZ BAMBI 🐘IS A TOUCHLY GAL AS MUCH AS AN EXHUBERANT😍 COMEDIC LOUD GAL😀. GOTTA LOVE THIS BAMB! SHES SO HAPPY SINCE SHE GOT OUT OF THE CONTAINER AND STEPPED ONTO SANCTUARY! SHE LIKELY HASNT HAD A DULL DAY👍! IM SURE SHE PROMISED HERSELF AT THAT ZOO! IM GOING TO LIVE LIFE TO THE MAX🙏. YES IM SURE HER ATTENTION IS ABOUT HEARING THINGS! SHES VERY VERY KEEN! PERHAPS BECAUSE OF HER NEAR BLINDNESS? SO GREAT KARISSA U CAN TEACH LADIES THINGS THEY MUST GET USED TO IN COOPERATION WITH VET WORK ETC IN FUTURE‼️ PLUS KARISSA U R SO LUCKY TO GET O KNOW THIS BIG 🐘BAMBI! I LOVE ❤️HER EXTROVERTISM OF FRIENDLYNESS❗️

  4. REPLY
    Sue says

    Hi Karissa! Thank you for your wonderful excitement filled guest post! And an extra thank you for the great video!! Is that the Itchy Scratchy tree that Bambi was using? It is so great hearing about Bambi’s excitement and her progress with training. I am sure that she will be a star student in no time. Thank you for your time and for all you do at Sanctuary!! Love and Hugs ❤️🐘❤️

  5. REPLY
    Kelejan says

    Dear Cheesy Karissa, lovely to get to know another person who loves elephants. I think elephants attract all the nicest caring people and they recognise them. I know you are going to be at the sanctuary for a few weeks and I do hope that somewhere you can get a permanent position, maybe at GES. It is wonderful how Bambi and the other girls transform when they get to GES after so many years of what must be absolute boredom at its best, even if not badly treated. Best wishes and much love to you, Karissa.

  6. REPLY
    Barb says

    Fantastic description of life with Bambi! Loved the video and happy to see Bambi with Rana. Thank you very much!

  7. REPLY
    Pat says

    Marissa. Thank you for sharing these special details about Bambi and the other girls.I love to hear how happy they are and most of all the wonderful care that you Scott and Kat give these beautiful creatures. May God bless you all and thanks for your wonderful help and care

  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    Thank you for this outstanding article and dito video. Must be heaven having an Elephant soul and being in the sanctuary surrounded by The Angels of Brasil. Lucky you. Enjoy every moment and live your dream. 🙏🐘🙏

  9. REPLY
    Julie says

    Thank you so much, Karissa, for the update. It’s so nice to know the girls have another wonderful and loving caregiver who thinks they are the bees knees! 😊

  10. REPLY
    FRANCINE FORD says

    Thank You, Marissa for living these GGs(Golden Girls) as much as we ALL do. I’m kind of jealous of y’all who get to “work” with them
    as closely as most of us could only wish to. I’m also thrilled to see that your work is focusing on Ms Bambtastic, as it was Bambi’s rescue that brought me here to GSE. She’s terrific, isn’t she? Her childlike enthusiasm for everything endears her to me & I know that I’m one of many who feel this way. Ellies doin ele things on ele time…Ahhhh…Sanctuary. The video you posted here of Ms Bambilicious & Ms Ranabug…like Sanctuary for me.
    ❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘❤🐘

  11. REPLY
    Camilla Carter says

    You all are so blessed to have this as your life, I am sure there are many trials with such a life but what a blessing you are to the elephants.❤🐘🐘🐘🐘❤

  12. REPLY
    FRANCINE FORD says

    Oooops, not Marissa. That meant to read Karissa. I just ❤autocorrect. NOT!

  13. REPLY
    carol-ann kunimoto says

    Karissa…thank you for this lovely perspective and for the video. The video transported me to the sanctuary…I loved hearing the sounds of the birds and seeing Bambi and Rana in this beautiful environment. I am so happy for them. So happy for you, too…what an amazing life experience you are having!!!

  14. REPLY
    Terry says

    Karissa, you sound like a phenomenal person and Light for these beautiful girls!. I would imagine elephants could have attention deficits due to the incredible freedom and peace sanctuary brings! Bambi is Love. Bambi is Light. There is much she has to teach us and train us in! Im glad you are there!. Gratefulness all around.❤

  15. REPLY
    Beji says

    Temptation has gotten the best if me a time or two over the years. I understand. It’s always easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission! Yeah team Bambi!

  16. REPLY
    Sunny says

    Thanks for your words Karissa 😊

  17. REPLY
    Mark Skipsey says

    Lovely to have our Karissa back……
    She’s a real rock star! 🎸

  18. REPLY
    Tammy says

    I could just watch these cute lil ladies for hours on end they are just amazing beautiful great big bundles of silly love! Here’s to a very Happy Healthy Safe New Year everyone! Tammy from chilly snowy Minnesota 💗🎉 😘 🐘 💞

  19. REPLY
    Shari says

    Thank-you for this wonderful video and post, Karissa! I am so grateful to everyone at GSE and thankful to be able to learn so much about the wonderful elephants and the care of the other animals there. Best wishes to all!

  20. REPLY
    Rachel says

    Thanks for all you do for these special creatures Karissa! Your written voice sounds very similar to that of Kat’s: sincere, caring, thoughtful and grateful – so no surprise Scott and Kat not only trust your expertise, but who you are within. How I wish I could be in your shoes for just a glorious few minutes, but alas I chose a different career of caring – an RN who has spent most of my career in the operating room, eventually as an educator. I know the thrill of successfully helping another achieve physical and mental goals, as well as the heartbreak that comes with illness and death. I salute you dear Karissa, and admire your work from afar. Hugs and cheers to more success stories for 2021! 💝

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