Mother and daughter elephants Pocha and Guillermina arrived at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, our initial project, in May of 2022 from Ecoparque Mendoza, after decades in a small underground cement enclosure. Their journey to sanctuary actually began years before, as Global Sanctuary for Elephants worked with the various organizations and agencies involved to get agreements put in place and make arrangements for care and transport, all while fundraising to prepare the sanctuary, and put in place plans for caregivers to begin the elephants’ extensive training. It was an incredibly lengthy and emotional process, but our mission for bettering the lives of captive elephants means that we were committed to Pocha and Guillermina, no matter the time it took.
Once their training was complete and they were comfortable in the transport containers, the elephants made the exciting multi-day trip from Argentina to Brazil. Once at the sanctuary, Pocha eventually emerged from her crate after about 8 hours of uncertainty. It was a brave step on her part, as she was leaving a safe space and the only thing that had ever really belonged to her. After Pocha walked out onto a pile of fresh sand, Guillermina followed in turn. The two immediately began dusting themselves, which they did for hours - instantly finding joy in the newness of their sanctuary home.
It took some time for the two of them to feel comfortable outside of the treatment barn, which was understandable considering that their entire environment was new to them. They had to learn to look up and around at their new home, since for their whole lives there had been nothing to see beyond the stone walls that stood a few feet in front of them in every direction. They quickly found joy in mud baths and were known to vocalize with one another frequently. Eventually, they chose to expand their horizons by entering the seventy-acre fenced habitat and spending time with some of the other elephant residents. Each step was gratifying because we were able to provide them the vast spaces they’d never known before, physical and mental stimulation forcing their minds to expand, and the companionship of a herd that would help them grow emotionally over time.
Thanks in part to the support we received from thoughtful and kind individuals, Pocha and Guillermina were able to find sanctuary. South America has over 30 elephants in facilities that are still in need of sanctuary. With 2,800 acres of lush landscape, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is capable of providing a natural environment where rescued elephants can graze and forage food, much like they would in nature; encouraging them to overcome detrimental coping mechanisms they created to survive; offering them the companionship of other elephants; and limiting human interaction to what is necessary for their proper care, among other things. We urge you to support our mission of protecting, rescuing, and providing sanctuary for elephants worldwide today.