Understanding Guillermina

Guillermina is a charming young elephant, but we’re still trying to understand more about what’s going on inside her. Lately, she’s seemed a little bit angsty and her behaviors toward Mara and Rana have been shifting back toward what we saw in her early days at sanctuary; she’s being less respectful at times, particularly of Mara and Rana’s space, sometimes pushing them off of their hay when there is plenty of other hay available. As a result, they seem more insecure around her than they have in the recent past. 

Though she’s been here for over a year, we still need more time to get a grasp on the ebb and flow of her personality. We all have times when we’re high and low, happy or sad. She could be experiencing mood changes due to the seasons shifting or because of her hormonal cycle. Regardless of the reason, she still seems to be figuring things out, which is part of her road to recovery after 23 years in a concrete pit. 

Guille is spending more time with Bambi and Maia, but isn’t being terribly respectful of their space either. She’s been more readily taking food from their piles or “sharing” when she’s not invited. Of course, those two push back and are less likely to allow her uninvited behaviors to continue. It’s not the most respectful situation, but it’s one that Maia and Bambi can handle for the time being. They seem more used to being around a teenager in a 25-year old’s body than the other two girls. 

But as we mentioned earlier, things seem to be cyclical. During breakfast in the morning, she was incredibly respectful of Maia and Bambi’s space. She was keeping her distance and would walk over quietly and wait to see if it was okay to share food. These curious changes make us think that her mood swings could be hormonal. But it’s also very possible that she’s just trying to test boundaries, like any teenager would.

We are watching her carefully and trying to make adaptations to what we’re doing, like giving her more space at meal times. Sometimes at dinner, we might move her into an adjoining yard to eat so that the older ladies can have the time and space they need to finish their food. It’s possible that she needs a little more attention now that the other elephants have split into two groups. Though we don’t want her to rely on humans as companions, we can make sure that we’re spending as much time with Guille as we are with the rest of the elephants, even though she doesn’t need any medical treatments, so she doesn’t feel left out. We’re still figuring her out and she’s likely still exploring things about herself. It’s a mutual journey toward balance within the herd. 

Photo of Guillermina walking with Maia in the background


  1. REPLY
    Patricia Richardson says

    Intriguing, heart-wrenching and full of hope and love! Thank you for sharing these questions and insights!💜💐🎉💐💜

  2. REPLY
    Maureen says

    aww, sweet Guille. Kids do tend to “revert” back to known behaviors when they are feeling insecure. Very possible she is struggling with the separate groups and not feeling included. Also, if she is cycling, well hormones do a number on every teenager and could be intensifying her responses. It would be hard being the only teenager among all the adults. The older girls will have to reinforce their discipline like they did when she first arrived.

  3. REPLY
    Zoi says

    Having born and lived in that pit almost all her life besides losing her mother, plus obviously hormonal cycle, her behavior is understandable. Hopefully my dearest girl gets some help from auntie Rana. 💓

  4. REPLY
    Elizabeth says

    It must be a difficult being the only teenager of the bunch! Thanks for taking such good care of her.

  5. REPLY
    Melinda says

    I think she’s still grieving the loss of her mom, and not understanding her new role with the other girls. Mom was all she knew for 23 years. It’s got to be hard to move on and learn new, healthier, coping skills. Thank goodness the other girls are patient and caring. They, and you, will see her through this rough patch.

  6. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    I really hope she’s just being a moody teenager

  7. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    When one thinks of her background of 23 years in a pit with the same elephant, her mother, then all of a sudden that one person has disappeared, it is incredible to see how much she has adapted to several strangers. These strangers are older, and less tolerant of her and her youth, and it makes sense she is going through hormonal ups and downs at her age. I believe she is also still grieving and missing her mother, and that was what was happening with her party of one last week when she was trumpeting and calling in the bushes. Grief surely comes and goes as it does with humans. I so wish I could take her in my arms, kiss her forehead, and comfort her. 🐘💕❤️

  8. REPLY
    Gayle Janzen says

    Teenagers can be a handful! I kinda feel like some of the others do that she feels a bit out of place being the youngest with no one her age to pal around with. Thank you for always taking the time to do your best to understand their complicated emotions.

  9. REPLY
    Terry says

    I’m holding space for you loving Guille…❤️

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